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Color vision in birds is mediated by four types of cone photoreceptors whose maximal sensitivities (λ[subscript max]) are evenly spaced across the light spectrum. In the course of avian evolution, the λ[subscript max] of the most shortwave-sensitive cone, SWS1, has switched between violet (λ[subscript max] > 400 nm) and ultraviolet (λ[subscript max] < 380 nm) multiple times. This shift of the SWS1 opsin is accompanied by a corresponding short-wavelength shift in the spectrally adjacent SWS2 cone. Here, we show that SWS2 cone spectral tuning is mediated by modulating the ratio of two apocarotenoids, galloxanthin and 11’,12’-dihydrogalloxanthin, which act as intracellular ...

Contributors
Toomey, Matthew B., Lind, Olle, Frederiksen, Rikard, et al.
Created Date
2016-07-12

Environmental conditions early in life can affect an organism’s phenotype at adulthood, which may be tuned to perform optimally in conditions that mimic those experienced during development (Environmental Matching hypothesis), or may be generally superior when conditions during development were of higher quality (Silver Spoon hypothesis). Here, we tested these hypotheses by examining how diet during development interacted with diet during adulthood to affect adult sexually selected ornamentation and immune function in male mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos). Mallards have yellow, carotenoid-pigmented beaks that are used in mate choice, and the degree of beak coloration has been linked to adult immune ...

Contributors
Butler, Michael, McGraw, Kevin, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, et al.
Created Date
2012-05-30

Sexual selection requires both that there is heritable variation in traits related to fitness, and that either some of this variation is linked to traits of the parents, and/or that there are direct benefits of choosing particular individuals as mates. This suggests that if direct benefits are important offspring performance should be predicted by traits of the rearing adults. But if indirect benefits are more significant offspring performance should be predicted by traits of the adults at the nest-of-origin. We conducted cross-fostering experiments in great tits (Parus major) over four years, in two of which we manipulated environmental conditions by ...

Contributors
Pickett, Simon R. A., Weber, Sam B., McGraw, Kevin, et al.
Created Date
2013-07-30

Male courtship display is common in many animals; in some cases, males engage in courtship indiscriminately, spending significant time and energy courting heterospecifics with whom they have no chance of mating or producing viable offspring. Due to high costs and few if any benefits, we might expect mechanisms to evolve to reduce such misdirected courtship (or ‘reproductive interference’). In Habronattus jumping spiders, males frequently court heterospecifics with whom they do not mate or hybridize; females are larger and are voracious predators, posing a severe risk to males who court indiscriminately. In this study, we examined patterns of misdirected courtship in ...

Contributors
Taylor, Lisa, Powell, Erin C., McGraw, Kevin, et al.
Created Date
2017-04-05

Vertebrates cannot synthesize carotenoid pigments de novo, so to produce carotenoid-based coloration they must ingest carotenoids. Most songbirds that deposit red carotenoids in feathers, bills, eyes, or skin ingest only yellow or orange dietary pigments, which they oxidize to red pigments via a ketolation reaction. It has been hypothesized that carotenoid ketolation occurs in the liver of vertebrates, but this hypothesis remains to be confirmed. To better understand the role of hepatocytes in the production of ketolated carotenoids in songbirds, we measured the carotenoid content of subcellular components of hepatocytes from wild male house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) that were molting ...

Contributors
Ge, Zhiyuan, Johnson, James D., Cobine, Paul A., et al.
Created Date
2015-07-01

Background The coevolution of male traits and female mate preferences has led to the elaboration and diversification of sexually selected traits; however the mechanisms that mediate trait-preference coevolution are largely unknown. Carotenoid acquisition and accumulation are key determinants of the expression of male sexually selected carotenoid-based coloration and a primary mechanism maintaining the honest information content of these signals. Carotenoids also influence female health and reproduction in ways that may alter the costs and benefits of mate choice behaviours and thus provide a potential biochemical link between the expression of male traits and female preferences. To test this hypothesis, we ...

Contributors
Toomey, Matthew, McGraw, Kevin, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, et al.
Created Date
2012-01-10

Background Urbanization can strongly impact the physiology, behavior, and fitness of animals. Conditions in cities may also promote the transmission and success of animal parasites and pathogens. However, to date, no studies have examined variation in the prevalence or severity of several distinct pathogens/parasites along a gradient of urbanization in animals or if these infections increase physiological stress in urban populations. Methodology/Principal Findings Here, we measured the prevalence and severity of infection with intestinal coccidians (Isospora sp.) and the canarypox virus (Avipoxvirus) along an urban-to-rural gradient in wild male house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus). In addition, we quantified an important stress ...

Contributors
Giraudeau, Mathieu, Mousel, Melanie, Earl, Stevan, et al.
Created Date
2014-02-04

Introduction Urbanization can considerably impact animal ecology, evolution, and behavior. Among the new conditions that animals experience in cities is anthropogenic noise, which can limit the sound space available for animals to communicate using acoustic signals. Some urban bird species increase their song frequencies so that they can be heard above low-frequency background city noise. However, the ability to make such song modifications may be constrained by several morphological factors, including bill gape, size, and shape, thereby limiting the degree to which certain species can vocally adapt to urban settings. We examined the relationship between song characteristics and bill morphology ...

Contributors
Giraudeau, Mathieu, Nolan, Paul M., Black, Caitlin E., et al.
Created Date
2014-11-12

Introduction Nutrient availability, assimilation, and allocation can have important and lasting effects on the immune system development of growing animals. Though carotenoid pigments have immunostimulatory properties in many animals, relatively little is known regarding how they influence the immune system during development. Moreover, studies linking carotenoids to health at any life stage have largely been restricted to birds and mammals. We investigated the effects of carotenoid supplementation on multiple aspects of immunity in juvenile veiled chameleons (Chamaeleo calyptratus). We supplemented half of the chameleons with lutein (a xanthophyll carotenoid) for 14 weeks during development and serially measured multiple aspects of ...

Contributors
McCartney, Kristen, Ligon, Russell, Butler, Michael, et al.
Created Date
2014-03-22

Background For many bird species, vision is the primary sensory modality used to locate and assess food items. The health and spectral sensitivities of the avian visual system are influenced by diet-derived carotenoid pigments that accumulate in the retina. Among wild House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus), we have found that retinal carotenoid accumulation varies significantly among individuals and is related to dietary carotenoid intake. If diet-induced changes in retinal carotenoid accumulation alter spectral sensitivity, then they have the potential to affect visually mediated foraging performance. Methodology/Principal Findings In two experiments, we measured foraging performance of house finches with dietarily manipulated retinal ...

Contributors
Toomey, Matthew, McGraw, Kevin, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, et al.
Created Date
2011-06-29

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