Melanin Plumage Ornaments in Both Sexes of Northern Flickers

MelaninPlumage Ornaments in Both Sexes of Northern Flickers Are AssociatedWith Body Condition and Predict Reproductive Output Independent ofAge

Abstract

Coloris widely used during sexual selection of animals. The relationshipbetween the attributes of four melanin-based plumage ornaments andindividual traits like age, body condition, sex, and body size in awoodpecker (the northern flicker Colaptesauratus)were investigated in this research. It was hypothesized that melaninornaments are sexually-selected and give an indication of quality inboth sexes hence, the pairs would mate assortatively depending onplumage traits, which would be correlated with some measures ofreproductive output. The focus of the study was on northern flickersfrom 1998 to 2013 in central British Columbia and it coveredapproximately 100 km2.The study employed both qualitative and quantitative methods of datacollection. No significant bivariate correlations were establishedamong the four melanin ornaments for both males and females. Widthof the tail band did not show any difference between the sexeshowever, older individuals displayed wider tail bands than yearlingbreeders. Tail band width increased between years 1 and 2 of life butdid not increase significantly in the subsequent years. However,there was a significant increase in spot size with age among femalesas far as breast spot size was concerned. The results were inconsistent with the hypothesis of sexual selection operation on bothfemale and male of flickers. This is because one of the four melaninplumage ornaments shown some correlation with body condition or sizefor both sexes, even when controlling age class was considered.

Wordcount: 241