, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 261-273

Mating systems, parasites and plumage dimorphism in waterfowl

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Despite a tendency for males of polygynous bird species to show bright or elaborate plumage, comparative analyses have failed to show any consistent relationship between male brightness or plumage dimorphism and the form of breeding systems. Here we argue that this may be partly because the opportunity for sexual selection varies between species showing serial or seasonal monogamy and life-long monogamy. In waterfowl, both the brightness of male plumage and sexual dimorphism in colouration vary between these categories of monogamy. Other ecological factors related to male brightness or plumage dimorphism include male assistance in protecting young, latitude and an index of parasite sharing. The adaptive significance of these trends is discussed.

Offprint requests to: D.K. Scott