Meeting Abstract

38.3  Thursday, Jan. 5  Condition-dependent display traits as signals of the functionality of vital cellular processes HILL, G. E.; Auburn Univ. ghill@auburn.edu

Condition is a nearly ubiquitous term in the behavioral, physiological, and evolutionary literature, yet existing definitions are incomplete or ambiguous. Too often in the literature, condition is defined in terms of nutrient reserves. This poor conceptualization has led to confusion regarding what is being signaled by condition-dependent traits and how to interpret links between ornamentation and individual characteristics such as nutrient reserves, oxidative state, and immunocompetence. I propose that the combined effects of the somatic state, epigenetic state, and genotype of an organism determine condition. I define condition as the relative capacity to maintain optimal functionality of vital systems within the body. A condition-dependent trait is a conspicuous feature of an organism that enhances perception of condition. If the honesty of ornamental traits derives from connections to vital cellular processes then there is no need to invoke a resource tradeoffs to insure signal honesty.