Evolutionary Biology Online Journal Club

First discussion: Accelerated speciation in color-polymorphic birds



Author: Rafael Maia

Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Idaho, studying the development and evolution of iridescent colors in birds.

11 thoughts on “First discussion: Accelerated speciation in color-polymorphic birds

  1. Awesome! Sorry I missed it. My lab meeting is getting moved until 4 pm so I should make it next week.

  2. Best quote from tonight’s meeting: “Mammals are done, but birds are still up in the air.” [Re: how well resolved is the bird phylogeny?]

  3. Pingback: Ejournal Club now a virtual reality « Nothing in biology makes sense!

  4. Pingback: Evolutionary Biology Online Journal Club « theoretical ecology

  5. Here is an interesting article relating back to Sam’s point about melanin (or other pigments) being pleiotropic with other traits:

    Dominant nestlings displaying female-like melanin coloration behave altruistically in the barn owl. Animal Behaviour http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003347212003843

    • In particular this part at the end:

      “…we propose that a dark reddish coloration could be related to female-specific behaviour. This is consistent with the observation that the motivation to feed siblings (measured in number of prey items consumed before sharing food with siblings) was not only related to phaeomelanin-based coloration but also higher in females than males. This raises the exciting possibility not only that females are more altruistic than males but also that feminine plumage traits are associated with the propensity to be generous”

      • Yeah! Roulin is the leader in that field. Here’s a good review on the topic he put together:

        Pleiotropy in the melanocortin system, coloration and behavioural syndromes
        Anne-Lyse Ducrest, Laurent Keller and Alexandre Roulin

        In vertebrates, melanin-based coloration is often associated with variation in physiological and behavioural traits. We propose that this association stems from pleiotropic effects of the genes regulating the synthesis of brown to black eumelanin. The most important regulators are the melanocortin 1 receptor and its ligands, the melanocortin agonists and the agouti-signalling protein antagonist. On the basis of the physiological and behavioural functions of the melanocortins, we predict five categories of traits correlated with melanin-based coloration. A review of the literature indeed reveals that, as predicted, darker wild vertebrates are more aggressive, sexually active and resistant to stress than lighter individuals. Pleiotropic effects of the melanocortins might thus account for the widespread covariance between melanin-based coloration and other phenotypic traits in vertebrates.


      • Another related paper on the system:
        Melanic color-dependent antipredator behavior strategies in barn owl nestlings. Behavioral Ecology http://beheco.oxfordjournals.org/content/23/3/473.short?rss=1

  6. Pingback: Archive of Papers Discussed « Evolutionary Biology Online Journal Club

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