, Volume 179, Issue 3, pp 297-304
Date: 07 Nov 2008

Size of ornament is negatively correlated with baseline corticosterone in males of a socially monogamous colonial seabird

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Abstract

The Goymann–Wingfield model predicts that glucocorticoid levels in social animals reflect the costs of acquiring and maintaining social status. The crested auklet is one of the few avian colonial species where a mutual ornament in males and females is used in both sexual and aggressive displays. Previous studies of the crested auklet support the notion that the crest ornament is a badge of status in this species. Here, we examined the relationship between the crest ornament size and the adrenocortical function in breeding crested auklets. Crest length was negatively correlated with corticosterone at baseline in males, but not in females. Baseline corticosterone in females (but not in males) was negatively correlated with body condition index. Although male and female crested auklets are monomorphic in their ornamental traits, our results suggest that the socially mediated physiological costs associated with status signaling may differ between the sexes.

Communicated by H.V. Carey.