Article: article from journal or magazin.
Carotenoid-based colour expression is determined early in nestling life.
Carotenoid-based colours are widespread in animals and are used as signals in intra- and interspecific communication. In nestling birds, the carotenoids used for feather pigmentation may derive via three pathways: (1) via maternal transfer to egg yolk; (2) via paternal feeds early after hatching when females are mainly brooding; or (3) via feeds from both parents later in nestling life. We analysed the relative importance of the proposed carotenoid sources in a field experiment on great tit nestlings ( Parus major). In a within-brood design we supplemented nestlings with carotenoids shortly after hatching, later on in the nestling life, or with a placebo. We show that the carotenoid-based colour expression of nestlings is modified maximally during the first 6 days after hatching. It reveals that the observed variation in carotenoid-based coloration is based only on mechanisms acting during a short period of time in early nestling life. The experiment further suggests that paternally derived carotenoids are the most important determinants of nestling plumage colour.
Adaptation, Physiological, Animal Feed, Animals, Carotenoids/administration & dosage, Color, Dietary Supplements, Feathers/physiology, Female, Nesting Behavior, Pigmentation, Songbirds/physiology
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