Presentation Title

Does Habitat Structure and Diet Predict Colouration?

Format of Presentation

Poster to be presented the Friday of the conference

Presenter Information

Natasha BucklerFollow

Abstract

A combination of both natural and environmental factors influence the evolution of plumage colouration in different bird species worldwide. This variation in colour is seen amongst species and sexes as a result of selective pressures. These pressures could include guild, habitat structure, migratory and social tendencies, nesting type, etc. This research investigated whether plumage colouration can be predicted by looking at a species guild and habitat structure. The plumage colouration of 2834 passerine bird species and subspecies, located throughout North and South America, was determined using an online description and picture library. The presence (1) or absence (0) of colouration was determined in five regions of the adult male and females’ body. These regions included the head, breast, wings, tail, and back. The four different types of plumage colouration that were investigated included melanin, carotenoid, structural and white. In each colour class, a score from 0-5 was assigned to each (sub)species of both males and females. Using the phytools R package, a phylogenetic tree was built based on the colouration data and the character traits associated with each species. The phylogenetic tree enables testing of colour-related hypotheses to determine how colour correlates with particular selective pressures among species, while taking into account sexual dimorphism and how selective pressures lead to variations between sexes.

Department

Biological Sciences

Faculty Advisor

Matt Reudink

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Does Habitat Structure and Diet Predict Colouration?

A combination of both natural and environmental factors influence the evolution of plumage colouration in different bird species worldwide. This variation in colour is seen amongst species and sexes as a result of selective pressures. These pressures could include guild, habitat structure, migratory and social tendencies, nesting type, etc. This research investigated whether plumage colouration can be predicted by looking at a species guild and habitat structure. The plumage colouration of 2834 passerine bird species and subspecies, located throughout North and South America, was determined using an online description and picture library. The presence (1) or absence (0) of colouration was determined in five regions of the adult male and females’ body. These regions included the head, breast, wings, tail, and back. The four different types of plumage colouration that were investigated included melanin, carotenoid, structural and white. In each colour class, a score from 0-5 was assigned to each (sub)species of both males and females. Using the phytools R package, a phylogenetic tree was built based on the colouration data and the character traits associated with each species. The phylogenetic tree enables testing of colour-related hypotheses to determine how colour correlates with particular selective pressures among species, while taking into account sexual dimorphism and how selective pressures lead to variations between sexes.