Morphology and Ornamentation in Male Magnificent Frigatebirds: Variation with Age Class and Mating Status

Madsen, V, Dabelsteen, T, Osorio, D and Osorno, J (2007) Morphology and Ornamentation in Male Magnificent Frigatebirds: Variation with Age Class and Mating Status. American Naturalist, 169. S93-S111. ISSN 0003-0147

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Abstract

Male magnificent frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) ornamentation includes bright iridescent plumage and a red inflatable gular pouch. These signals are displayed during courtship, along with a drumming sound produced through specialized beak clackings resonating in the gular pouch. The extent of white in the plumage identifies three age classes of nonjuvenile male. Here we investigate how morphological and secondary sexual traits correlate with age class and mating status. Even though several age class-related differences in morphology and visual appearance can be identified, the only features that significantly predict mating success are acoustic components of courtship display. Specifically, males that mate drum at lower fundamental frequencies-that is, they have larger gular pouches-and have a quicker and more constant drumming cadence than unsuccessful males. The fundamental frequency decreases with age class, reflecting an increase in gular pouch size. This implies that females prefer older or possibly more experienced or viable males. Drumming cadence speed and stability might reflect male stamina. Apart from the acoustic differences with mating status, there is a nonsignificant tendency for back-feather iridescence to be of shorter reflectance wavelength spectra in mated than in unmated males, which, when combined with acoustic variables, improves prediction of age class and mating status.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: acoustic communication, female mate preference, Fregata magnificens, iridescence, secondary sexual trait expression, structural feather coloration.
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Biology and Environmental Science
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Depositing User: Daniel ColacoOsorio
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2008
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2017 08:54
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/1785
Google Scholar:18 Citations

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