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ckwell Publishing LtdCarotenoid accumulation strategies for becoming a colourful House Finch



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Functional Ecology 2006 20 678 688 Carotenoid accumulation strategies for becoming a colourful House Finch analyses of plasma and liver pigments in wild moulting birds Blackwell Publishing Ltd K J MCGRAW P M NOLAN and O L CRINO School of Life Sciences Arizona State University Tempe AZ 85287 4501 USA Summary 1 Male House Finches Carpodacus mexicanus colour their sexually selected plumage with carotenoid pigments and there has been much interest in the factors that affect their ability to become bright red rather than drab yellow 2 There is good support for the notions that health nutritional condition and total carotenoid intake influence colour expression but there are also suggestions that acquiring particular types of carotenoids from the diet may be important for developing red plumage 3 We used high performance liquid chromatography HPLC to analyse the types and amounts of endogenous in plasma and liver and integumentary in newly grown feathers carotenoids in a wild native population of moulting male and female House Finches from the south western United States to determine the carotenoid accumulation strategies for becoming optimally colourful 4 Four plant carotenoids lutein zeaxanthin cryptoxanthin and carotene were detected in plasma and liver However as was found previously 11 carotenoids were observed in colourful plumage with xanthophylls e g lutein dehydrolutein predominant in yellow feathers and ketocarotenoids e g adonirubin 3 hydroxy echinenone in red feathers This indicates endogenous modification of ingested carotenoids 5 Birds that accumulated more of one type of carotenoid in plasma and liver did not necessarily accumulate more of all other types suggesting that individuals are not employing a simple more is better strategy for coloration Instead when forward stepwise regression was used to examine the ability of individual types of carotenoids in plasma and liver to explain variation in red plumage pigments and plumage redness we found that the



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