Journal of Ethology

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 79-83

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Divergent tail and throat ornamentation in the barn swallow across the Japanese islands

  • Masaru HasegawaAffiliated with Email author 
  • , Emi AraiAffiliated withDivision of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University


The geographic variations in male ornamentation provide insights into how different populations reach a different mean trait value under opposing forces of natural and sexual selection. Although the latitudinal cline of the elongated tail streamer, a sexually selected trait in the European subspecies of the barn swallow Hirundo rustica rustica, is a classic example, it has recently been shown that other subspecies of swallows have different targets of sexual selection. Here, we studied the latitudinal cline of ornamentation in the Asian subspecies, H. r. gutturalis, in which not the tail length but the white tail spot and red throat patch are important sexually selected traits. After controlling for covariates, the size of the white tail spot increased with latitude, while the size of the red throat patch decreased with latitude. On the other hand, we could not find any clear pattern regarding the elongated tail streamer, measured as fork depth. The divergent ornamentation across populations could be explained by latitudinal clines of sexually selected advantages of each ornament.


Multiple ornaments Red throat patch Fork tail White tail spot Sexual selection