Convergent evolution of red carotenoid coloration in widowbirds and bishops (Euplectes spp.)
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2010

Avian carotenoid-based signals are classic examples of sexually selected, condition-dependent threat displays or mate choice cues. In many species, male dominance or mating success is associated with redder (i.e., longer wavelength) color hues, suggesting that red colors are either more efficient or more reliable signals than yellow colors. Few studies, however, have investigated selection for redness in a macroevolutionary context. Here, we phylogenetically reconstruct the evolution of carotenoid coloration in the African widowbirds and bishops (Euplectes spp.), for which agonistic selection for redder hues, as well as pigmentary mechanisms, is well documented. Using reflectance spectrometry for objective color quantification, and accounting for phylogenetic uncertainty, we find that yellow plumage color is a retained ancestral state in Euplectes, and that red color hues have convergently evolved two or three times. Results are discussed in relation to a known diversity in pigment mechanisms, supporting independent origins of red color, and suggesting that agonistic selection and physiological constraints have interacted to generate color diversity in Euplectes.

maximum likelihood


Honest signaling

stochastic character mapping

spectral reflectance



Maria Prager

Göteborgs universitet

Staffan Andersson

Göteborgs universitet

Evolution international journal of organic evolution

0014-3820 (ISSN)

Vol. 64 12 3609-3619


Biologisk systematik


Mer information