3 years ago

Males in seemingly female-like plumage do not mimic females: UV reflectance reveals temporal cryptic dimorphism in a manakin species exhibiting delayed plumage maturation

Castaño-Villa Gabriel J., Morales-Betancourt Juan Alejandro
Manakins (Pipridae) are neotropical birds that usually exhibit delayed plumage maturation (DPM). Thus, while plumage of most adult male manakins is brightly conspicuous, subadult males and females are basically dull-olive green. Although sexual dichromatism in some bird species may be evident only through UV reflectance, this phenomenon, known as hidden sexual dichromatism, has not been previously studied in manakins to compare subadult males and females. Within this framework, we carried out spectrophotometric analyses in searching for hidden sexual dichromatism in the white-bearded manakin Manacus manacus, through comparison of UV spectra in females and subadult males in green plumage. Our results revealed UV reflectance in both sexes in green plumage. Moreover, we found UV spectral differences in homologous color patches between sexes, particularly at belly. Since the observed differences may allow intraspecific sex recognition of individuals in green plumage, our results do not support the female-mimicry hypothesis to explain delayed plumage maturation in the white-bearded manakin. Although our findings dismiss the female mimicry hypothesis, we cannot state whether these results support the non-mutually exclusive cryptic and status signaling hypotheses. We propose then, that dull coloration of subadult males may serve both as a cryptic trait and to limit the energetic costs of acquiring the adult plumage before sexual maturity. Meanwhile, differential UV color traits between sexes in green plumage may allow adult males to avoid unnecessary energy expenditures in courtship displays in the presence of males near leks, and to selectively focus their the courtship displays on females. In accordance with the status signaling hypothesis, subadult males can be recognized both as males and subordinates and consequently may practice courtship displays without suffering aggressions by adult males. Our results highlight the importance to include a wider range of spectrophotometric information analyses for testing hypotheses regarding delayed plumage maturation.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/jav.01467

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