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WING MOLT AND ASSORTATIVE MATING IN COMMON TERNS: A TEST OF THE MOLT-SIGNALING HYPOTHESIS
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WING MOLT AND ASSORTATIVE MATING IN COMMON TERNS: A TEST OF THE MOLT-SIGNALING HYPOTHESIS

Author: Eli S Bridge; Ian C T Nisbet
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication:The Condor, v106 n2 (05 2004): 336-343
Other Databases: WorldCat
Summary:
Many seabirds are monomorphic and lack obvious ornamentation; thus the mechanisms and signaling systems that mediate mate choice can be elusive. We investigated the possibility that a unique characteristic of wing molt in most species of Sterna terns acts as a sexually selected indicator of fitness. Many terns replace a variable number of primaries and sometimes secondaries twice or occasionally three times each  Read more...
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Details

Document Type: Article
All Authors / Contributors: Eli S Bridge; Ian C T Nisbet
ISSN:0010-5422
Language Note: English
Unique Identifier: 4630492786
Notes: FEATURE ARTICLES
Present address: 488 Brunswick Ave., Apt. 3, Toronto, ON M5R 2Z5, Canada. brid0030@tc.umn.edu
Awards:

Abstract:

Many seabirds are monomorphic and lack obvious ornamentation; thus the mechanisms and signaling systems that mediate mate choice can be elusive. We investigated the possibility that a unique characteristic of wing molt in most species of Sterna terns acts as a sexually selected indicator of fitness. Many terns replace a variable number of primaries and sometimes secondaries twice or occasionally three times each year. Some have suggested that this repeated wing molt may serve as an honest indicator of fitness in mutual mate choice. If this molt-signaling hypothesis is valid, one would expect there to be assortative mating with respect to the extent of repeated wing molt. We tested this prediction by examining 262 breeding pairs of Common Terns ( Sterna hirundo ) from colonies in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. Using banding records and plumage characters, we were often able to distinguish young birds making their first breeding attempt from older birds which may have maintained past pair bonds. We found evidence of assortative mating with respect to repeated wing molt in newly formed pairs, which supports the notion of wing molt as a sexually selected character.

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