Superciliums in white-eared hummingbirds as badges of status signaling dominance
The role of badges as indicators of contest ability has been previously described. In hummingbirds, the exhibition of a badge is expected to save energy expenditure in agonistic interactions and to favor energy intake. Here, we investigate whether variable supercilium size in the white-eared hummingbird has a role in dominance status signaling. Firstly, 45 hummingbird males were captured and their superciliums were photographed to investigate variation in size and any possible allometric relationships. Secondly, 42 male birds were used to analyze whether the supercilium has a role in dominance status signaling in a dyadic contest. We found that supercilium size varied continuously but that despite variability between individuals, there was no relationship between supercilium size and body size. However, our dyad experiment indicated that birds with larger badges were able to make more visits to the feeders than individuals with smaller badges. We suggest a status signaling function of the supercilium.
KeywordsDominance Hylocharis leucotis Recognizing dominance Signal reliability Status badge
We would like to thank M. J. Pérez-Crespo and V. Mendiola for their assistance in the field and their logistical support. To Mike Lockwood for the revision of the manuscript in English. Pietro K. Maruyama and three anonymous reviewers provided useful comments on previous versions of the manuscript. Permission to conduct our fieldwork was granted by the Mexican government (SEMARNAT, FAUT-0296). This work constitutes partial fulfillment of JMG’s doctorate at the Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala.
The Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT: 365006/248109) provided the first author with financial support in the form of a scholarship. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
All experiments comply with the current Mexican laws.
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