Genetic and environmental effects on the covariation between colour polymorphism and a life-history trait

A Roulin*, P Bize, PA Ravussin, L Broch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Variation in coloration with a strong underlying genetic basis is frequently found within animal populations but little is known about its function. Covariation between colour polymorphisin and life-history traits can arise because morphs perform differently among environments or because they possess alternative alleles coding for key life-history traits. To test these two hypotheses, we studied a population of tawny owls Strix aluco, a bird displaying red, brown and grey morphs. We assessed the colour morph of breeding females, swapped eggs or hatchlings between pairs of nests, and examined how body condition in 3-week-old nestlings covaries with coloration of foster and genetic mothers. Redder foster and genetic mothers produced young in better condition. Because in two other years we observed that greyish females produced offspring in better condition than those of red females, the present study suggests that colour polymorphism signals genetic and phenotypic adaptations to cope with a fluctuating environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1253-1260
Number of pages8
JournalEvolutionary Ecology Research
Volume6
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004

Keywords

  • colour polymorphism
  • disruptive selection
  • ecological niche
  • frequency-dependent selection
  • genetic-environment interaction
  • Strix aluco
  • OWL STRIX-ALUCO
  • TAWNY OWL
  • PYGMY GRASSHOPPERS
  • TETRIX-UNDULATA
  • EVOLUTION
  • PATTERN
  • SELECTION
  • BEHAVIOR

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