Chic chicks: the evolution of chick ornamentation in rails

Krebs, EA and Putland, DA (2004) Chic chicks: the evolution of chick ornamentation in rails. Behavioral Ecology, 15 6: 946-951. doi:10.1093/beheco/arh078

Author Krebs, EA
Putland, DA
Title Chic chicks: the evolution of chick ornamentation in rails
Journal name Behavioral Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1045-2249
Publication date 2004-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1093/beheco/arh078
Volume 15
Issue 6
Start page 946
End page 951
Total pages 6
Editor A. Bourke
I. Owens
Place of publication UK
Publisher Oxford University Press
Language eng
Subject C1
270501 Animal Systematics, Taxonomy and Phylogeny
780105 Biological sciences
Abstract Competition over access to food has led to the evolution of a variety of exaggerated visual and vocal displays in altricial nestling birds. Precocial chicks that are fed by their parents also vary widely in appearance ranging from those with inconspicuous coloration to those with brightly colored bills, fleshy parts, and plumes. These ornaments are lost by the end of the period of parental dependence, suggesting they function in competition over parental care. We use a comparative approach to evaluate which ecological or life-history variables may have favored the evolution of conspicuous ornamentation in precocial chicks. We compiled data on chick morphology, ecology, and social organization of species in the Family Rallidae, a group with highly variable downy chicks. Chick ornamentation in the form of brightly colored bills, fleshy patches, or plumes is observed in 36 of 97 species for which downy chicks are described. Phylogenetic reconstructions suggest that nonornamentation is the ancestral state. Chick ornamentation has evolved multiple times within the Rallidae and is significantly associated with large clutch sizes and polygamous mating systems. Chick ornamentation was also weakly associated with adult ornamentation and adult dimorphism. We argue that these results support the hypothesis that lineages with higher levels of sibling competition are more likely to evolve ornamented chicks.
Keyword Behavioral Sciences
Chick Coloration
Precocial Chicks
Sibling Competition
Conspecific Brood Parasitism
Moorhen Gallinula-chloropus
Nestling Mouth Color
American Coots
Q-Index Code C1

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2005 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 17 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 18 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 13:23:00 EST