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Dynamic feedback between phenotype and physiology



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Update Research Focus Dynamic feedback between phenotype and physiology in sexually selected traits Dustin R Rubenstein1 2 and Mark E Hauber3 1 Department of Integrative Biology and Museum of Vertebrate Zoology University of California Berkeley 3060 Valley Life Sciences Building Berkeley CA 94720 USA 2 Department of Ecology Evolution and Environmental Biology Columbia University Schermerhorn Extension 10th Floor 1200 Amsterdam Avenue New York NY 10027 USA 3 School of Biological Sciences University of Auckland Private Bag 92019 Auckland New Zealand Theory predicts that physiological costs of producing elaborate phenotypes assure the honesty of sexually selected traits It is generally assumed that these physiological processes drive sexually selected displays However a recent study by Safran and colleagues demonstrates that the manipulation of plumage ornaments in barn swallows alters the temporal course of circulating androgens thus rejecting the scenario of a static unidirectional relationship between physiology and sexual displays Instead these results suggest that dynamic feedbacks between physiological morphological and behavioural costs underlie the development and maintenance of sexually selected ornaments Physiology of sexually selected traits Animals use elaborate displays in mate attraction and territorial defence Honesty of these signals is often enforced by costly physiological processes that underlie the production and maintenance of sexually selected traits 1 3 The proximate control of many such ornaments relies on hormones to regulate signal production 4 Specifically androgens including testosterone influence the expression of many ornamental traits in birds particularly the melanin based rusty brown and black colours that commonly underlie avian plumage Melanins are the most common avian pigment and experimental androgen elevations can enhance melanin based plumage signals used in mate attraction and social dominance 5 These patterns support the



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