Mediating male-male interactions: the role of the UV-blue crest coloration in blue tits
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionRémy, A., Grégoire, A., Perret, P., & Doutrelant, C. (2010). Mediating male-male interactions : the role of the UV blue crest coloration in blue tits. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 64(11), 1839-1847. doi: 10.1007/s00265-010-0995-z
Badges of status, usually color patches, are hypothesised to serve as important signals within natural populations by communicating individual’s fighting ability or aggressiveness before an interaction ever takes place. These signals, which may evolve via sexual and/or social selection, mediate intra-specific competition by influencing the outcome or escalation of contests between individuals. The last 10 years saw the rise of interest in the role of Ultraviolet (UV)-based coloration in intra-sexual communication. However, the rare experimental studies that tested this hypothesis found opposite results, which may originate from the different methodological procedures used to assess badge of status theory. We present here the results of an experiment testing whether male blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) respond differently to unfamiliar conspecifics presenting contrasted UV crest coloration. In an aviary, we simultaneously presented two caged blue tits with enhanced (UV+) or reduced (UV-) crest coloration to a focal bird. We found that focal males acted more aggressively towards the UV- males than UV+ males. In addition, focal males fed more often close to males that were similar in brightness or duller than themselves. We conclude that, in blue tits, UV-blue crest coloration affects both social and aggressive responses towards unfamiliar individuals, and thus it has some properties of a badge of status.
This is the postprint version of the article. The published article can be located here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00265-010-0995-z?null