Meeting Abstract

117.3  Saturday, Jan. 7  Male quality in an Arctic passerine: what are the links between plumage and reproduction GUINDRE-PARKER, S.*; GILCHRIST, H.G.; DOUCET, S.M.; LOVE, O.L.; Biological Sciences, University of Windsor; National Wildlife Research Centre, Environment Canada; Biological Sciences, University of Windsor; Biological Sciences, University of Windsor guindre@uwindsor.ca

Theory predicts that an individual’s quality and fitness are closely linked; high-quality individuals are expected to have high reproductive success. While the link between quality-mediated traits and reproductive output has been shown in many taxa, the mechanism by which this relationship holds is less often assessed. We are using an Arctic-breeding population of Snow Buntings (Plectrophenax nivalis) to assess physiological traits that may mediate the relationship between plumage quality and reproductive output in males. By combining ecological (timing of arrival, territory size) and physiological (arrival condition, testosterone, immunoglobulins) traits within an evolutionary framework, we hope to elucidate the mechanisms by which plumage quality drives reproductive success. Specifically, we are undertaking the following: 1-Assessing male plumage quality by measuring plumage colouration, growth rates and patterns of colouration on easily displayed regions of the body (tail, wings) 2-Measuring plasma testosterone levels and stress-mediated traits (immunoglobulin and oxidative stress levels) 3-Assessing the reproductive success of each male. This project is one of the first attempts to examine endocrine and immunological mechanisms that may drive the link between male phenotypic traits and breeding. We are using multi-year correlative data to obtain a holistic understanding of how phenotype and physiology can drive fitness. Selected results will be presented providing information on (1) the relationship between plumage and reproduction and (2) the physiological mechanisms that link male quality and reproduction.