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Spatial variation in the temporal change of male and female melanic ornamentation in the barn owl
Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Lausanne.
2011 (English)In: Journal of Evolutionary Biology, ISSN 1010-061X, E-ISSN 1420-9101, Vol. 24, no 7, 1403-14099 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Because the magnitude of selection can vary between sexes and in space and time, sexually antagonistic selection is difficult to demonstrate. In a Swiss population of barn owls (Tyto alba), a heritable eumelanic colour trait (size of black spots on ventral feathers) was positively selected with respect to yearling survival only in females. It remains unclear whether the absence of negative selection in males is typical in this species. To tackle this issue indirectly, we measured the size of black spots in 1733 skin specimens collected by museums from 1816 to 2001 in seven European countries and in the Middle-East. The temporal change in spot size was sex- and country-specific. In males, spots became smaller particularly in three countries (Middle-East, Italy and Switzerland). In females, the size of spots increased significantly in two countries (UK and Spain) and decreased in two others (Germany and Switzerland). Because migration and phenotypic plasticity cannot explain these results, selection is the most likely cause. The weaker temporal change in spot size in females than males may be because of the combined effect of strong genetic correlation between the sexes and stronger negative selection in males than positive selection in females. We thus suggest that in the barn owl, spot size (or genetically correlated traits) is sexually antagonistically selected and that its pattern of selection may account for the maintenance of its variation and sexual dimorphism.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 24, no 7, 1403-14099 p.
National Category
Evolutionary Biology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-217914DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02272.xPubMedID: 21507118OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-217914DiVA: diva2:694234
Available from: 2014-02-06 Created: 2014-02-05 Last updated: 2015-08-03Bibliographically approved

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