Detectability matters: conspicuous nestling mouth colours make prey transfer easier for parents in a cavity nesting bird.


:An often underappreciated function of signals is to notify receivers of the presence and position of senders. The colours that ornament the mouthparts of nestling birds, for example, have been hypothesized to evolve via selective pressure generated by parents' inability to efficiently detect and feed nestlings without such visually conspicuous targets. This proposed mechanism has primarily been evaluated with comparative studies and experimental tests for parental allocation bias, leaving untested the central assumption of this detectability hypothesis, that provisioning offspring is a visually challenging task for avian parents and conspicuous mouths help. To test this assumption, I manipulated the mouths of nestling house sparrows to appear minimally and maximally conspicuous, and quantified prey transfer difficulty as the total duration of a feeding event and the number of transfer attempts required. Prey transfer to inconspicuous nestlings was, as predicted, more difficult. While this suggests that detectability constraints could shape nestling mouth colour evolution, even minimally conspicuous nestlings were not prohibitively difficult for parents to feed, indicating that a more nuanced explanation for interspecific diversity in this trait is needed.


Biol Lett


Biology letters


Dugas MB




Has Abstract


2015-11-01 00:00:00












  • Native Great Lakes wolves were not restored.

    abstract::Wolves from the Great Lakes area were historically decimated due to habitat loss and predator control programmes. Under the protection of the US Endangered Species Act, the population has rebounded to approximately 3000 individuals. We show that the pre-recovery population was dominated by mitochondrial DNA haplotypes...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Leonard JA,Wayne RK

    更新日期:2008-02-23 00:00:00

  • Preterm birth is associated with an increased fundamental frequency of spontaneous crying in human infants at term-equivalent age.

    abstract::Human infant crying has been researched as a non-invasive tool for assessing neurophysiological states at an early developmental stage. Little is known about the acoustic features of spontaneous cries in preterm infants, although their pain-induced cries are at a higher fundamental frequency (F0) before term-equivalen...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Shinya Y,Kawai M,Niwa F,Myowa-Yamakoshi M

    更新日期:2014-08-01 00:00:00

  • The vermetid gastropod Dendropoma maximum reduces coral growth and survival.

    abstract::Coral reefs are one of the most diverse systems on the planet; yet, only a small fraction of coral reef species have attracted scientific study. Here, we document strong deleterious effects of an often overlooked species-the vermetid gastropod, Dendropoma maximum-on growth and survival of reef-building corals. Our sur...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Shima JS,Osenberg CW,Stier AC

    更新日期:2010-12-23 00:00:00

  • Extensive population decline in the Tasmanian devil predates European settlement and devil facial tumour disease.

    abstract::The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) was widespread in Australia during the Late Pleistocene but is now endemic to the island of Tasmania. Low genetic diversity combined with the spread of devil facial tumour disease have raised concerns for the species' long-term survival. Here, we investigate the origin of low...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Brüniche-Olsen A,Jones ME,Austin JJ,Burridge CP,Holland BR

    更新日期:2014-11-01 00:00:00

  • Resistance of flight feathers to mechanical fatigue covaries with moult strategy in two warbler species.

    abstract::Flight feather moult in small passerines is realized in several ways. Some species moult once after breeding or once on their wintering grounds; others even moult twice. The adaptive significance of this diversity is still largely unknown. We compared the resistance to mechanical fatigue of flight feathers from the ch...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Weber TP,Borgudd J,Hedenström A,Persson K,Sandberg G

    更新日期:2005-03-22 00:00:00

  • Female preference for conspecific males based on olfactory cues in a Lake Malawi cichlid fish.

    abstract::Research on reproductive isolation in African cichlid fishes has largely focused on the role of nuptial colours, but other sensory modes may play an important role in mate choice. Here, we compare the relative importance of visual and olfactory cues in mate recognition by females of a Lake Malawi cichlid species. Fema...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Plenderleith M,van Oosterhout C,Robinson RL,Turner GF

    更新日期:2005-12-22 00:00:00

  • Care for kin: within-group relatedness and allomaternal care are positively correlated and conserved throughout the mammalian phylogeny.

    abstract::With an increasing amount of data becoming available, comparative analyses have called attention to the associations between cooperative breeding, monogamy and relatedness. We focus here upon the association between allomaternal care and relatedness among females within a social unit. Previous studies found a positive...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Briga M,Pen I,Wright J

    更新日期:2012-08-23 00:00:00

  • Interference coloration as an anti-predator defence.

    abstract::Interference coloration, in which the perceived colour varies predictably with the angle of illumination or observation, is extremely widespread across animal groups. However, despite considerable advances in our understanding of the mechanistic basis of interference coloration in animals, we still have a poor underst...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Pike TW

    更新日期:2015-04-01 00:00:00

  • An indigenous religious ritual selects for resistance to a toxicant in a livebearing fish.

    abstract::Human-induced environmental change can affect the evolutionary trajectory of populations. In Mexico, indigenous Zoque people annually introduce barbasco, a fish toxicant, into the Cueva del Azufre to harvest fish during a religious ceremony. Here, we investigated tolerance to barbasco in fish from sites exposed and un...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Tobler M,Culumber ZW,Plath M,Winemiller KO,Rosenthal GG

    更新日期:2011-04-23 00:00:00

  • Starving honeybees lose self-control.

    abstract::Impulsivity, the widespread preference for a smaller and more immediate reward over a larger and more delayed reward, is known to vary across species, and the metabolic and social hypotheses present contrasting explanations for this variation. However, this presents a paradox for an animal such as the honeybee, which ...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Mayack C,Naug D

    更新日期:2015-01-01 00:00:00

  • Cryptic sociality in rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) detected by kinship analysis.

    abstract::Research on social behaviour has largely concentrated on birds and mammals in visually active, cooperatively breeding groups (although such systems are relatively rare) and focused much less on species that rarely interact other than for mating and parental care. We used microsatellite markers to characterize relatedn...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Clark RW,Brown WS,Stechert R,Greene HW

    更新日期:2012-08-23 00:00:00

  • Defence strategies against a parasitoid wasp in Drosophila: fight or flight?

    abstract::Hosts may defend themselves against parasitism through a wide variety of defence mechanisms, but due to finite resources, investment in one defence mechanism may trade-off with investment in another mechanism. We studied resistance strategies against the parasitoid wasp Leptopilina boulardi in two Drosophila species. ...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Lefèvre T,de Roode JC,Kacsoh BZ,Schlenke TA

    更新日期:2012-04-23 00:00:00

  • Sibling relatedness rather than father absence predicts earlier age at menarche in ELSPAC cohort.

    abstract::Many studies during the past 50 years have found an association between father absence and earlier menarche. In connection with these findings, several evolutionary theories assume that father absence is a causal factor accelerating reproductive development. However, a recent study analysing data from the Avon Longitu...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Lenárt P,Zlámal F,Kukla L,Jarkovský J,Bienertová-Vašků J

    更新日期:2019-06-28 00:00:00

  • Changing motivations during migration: linking movement speed to reproductive status in a migratory large mammal.

    abstract::A challenge in animal ecology is to link animal movement to demography. In general, reproducing and non-reproducing animals may show different movement patterns. Dramatic changes in reproductive status, such as the loss of an offspring during the course of migration, might also affect movement. Studies linking movemen...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Singh NJ,Ericsson G

    更新日期:2014-06-01 00:00:00

  • Sensory feedback and coordinating asymmetrical landing in toads.

    abstract::Coordinated landing requires anticipating the timing and magnitude of impact, which in turn requires sensory input. To better understand how cane toads, well known for coordinated landing, prioritize visual versus vestibular feedback during hopping, we recorded forelimb joint angle patterns and electromyographic data ...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Cox SM,Gillis GB

    更新日期:2016-06-01 00:00:00

  • Field evidence for earlier leaf-out dates in alpine grassland on the eastern Tibetan Plateau from 1990 to 2006.

    abstract::Worldwide, many plant species are experiencing an earlier onset of spring phenophases due to climate warming. Rapid recent temperature increases on the Tibetan Plateau (TP) have triggered changes in the spring phenology of the local vegetation. However, remote sensing studies of the land surface phenology have reached...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Zhou HK,Yao BQ,Xu WX,Ye X,Fu JJ,Jin YX,Zhao XQ

    更新日期:2014-08-01 00:00:00

  • Higher temperature exacerbates the impact of sediments on embryo performances in a salmonid.

    abstract::In a warming climate, higher temperatures are likely to modulate positively or negatively the effect of other environmental factors on biota, although such interactions are poorly documented. Here, we explore under controlled conditions the combined effects of two common stressors in freshwater ecosystems, higher temp...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Mari L,Garaud L,Evanno G,Lasne E

    更新日期:2016-12-01 00:00:00

  • Lateralization of visual learning in the honeybee.

    abstract::Lateralization is a well-described phenomenon in humans and other vertebrates and there are interesting parallels across a variety of different vertebrate species. However, there are only a few studies of lateralization in invertebrates. In a recent report, we showed lateralization of olfactory learning in the honeybe...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Letzkus P,Boeddeker N,Wood JT,Zhang SW,Srinivasan MV

    更新日期:2008-02-23 00:00:00

  • Drought-induced forest decline: causes, scope and implications.

    abstract::A large number of episodes of forest mortality associated with drought and heat stress have been detected worldwide in recent decades, suggesting that some of the world's forested ecosystems may be already responding to climate change. Here, we summarize a special session titled 'Drought-induced forest decline: causes...

    journal_title:Biology letters



    authors: Martínez-Vilalta J,Lloret F,Breshears DD

    更新日期:2012-10-23 00:00:00

  • Climate change in fish: effects of respiratory constraints on optimal life history and behaviour.

    abstract::The difference between maximum metabolic rate and standard metabolic rate is referred to as aerobic scope, and because it constrains performance it is suggested to constitute a key limiting process prescribing how fish may cope with or adapt to climate warming. We use an evolutionary bioenergetics model for Atlantic c...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Holt RE,Jørgensen C

    更新日期:2015-02-01 00:00:00

  • Anti-predator behaviour depends on male weapon size.

    abstract::Tonic immobility and escape are adaptive anti-predator tactics used by many animals. Escape requires movement, whereas tonic immobility does not. If anti-predator tactics relate to weapon size, males with larger weapons may adopt tonic immobility, whereas males with smaller weapons may adopt escape. However, no study ...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Matsumura K,Yumise K,Fujii Y,Hayashi T,Miyatake T

    更新日期:2020-12-01 00:00:00

  • Ecological continuity and transformation after the Permo-Triassic mass extinction in northeastern Panthalassa.

    abstract::The Permo-Triassic mass extinction (PTME) is often implicated in the transition from the Paleozoic evolutionary fauna (PEF) to the modern evolutionary fauna (MEF). However, the exact timing and details of this progression are unknown, especially regarding the vacating and filling of functional ecological space after t...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Dineen AA,Roopnarine PD,Fraiser ML

    更新日期:2019-03-29 00:00:00

  • Human kin recognition is self- rather than family-referential.

    abstract::Inclusive fitness theory predicts that organisms will tend to help close kin more than less related individuals. In a variety of birds and mammals, relatives are recognized by comparing their phenotype to an internal representation or template, which might be learned through either repeated exposure to family members ...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Bressan P,Zucchi G

    更新日期:2009-06-23 00:00:00

  • Partial migration: growth varies between resident and migratory fish.

    abstract::Partial migration occurs in many taxa and ecosystems and may confer survival benefits. Here, we use otolith chemistry data to determine whether fish from a large estuarine system were resident or migratory, and then examine whether contingents display differences in modelled growth based on changes in width of otolith...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Gillanders BM,Izzo C,Doubleday ZA,Ye Q

    更新日期:2015-03-01 00:00:00

  • Passively stuck: death does not affect gecko adhesion strength.

    abstract::Many geckos use adhesive toe pads on the bottom of their digits to attach to surfaces with remarkable strength. Although gecko adhesion has been studied for hundreds of years, gaps exist in our understanding at the whole-animal level. It remains unclear whether the strength and maintenance of adhesion are determined b...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Stewart WJ,Higham TE

    更新日期:2014-12-01 00:00:00

  • Evidence for individual discrimination and numerical assessment in collective antipredator behaviour in wild jackdaws (Corvus monedula).

    abstract::Collective responses to threats occur throughout the animal kingdom but little is known about the cognitive processes underpinning them. Antipredator mobbing is one such response. Approaching a predator may be highly risky, but the individual risk declines and the likelihood of repelling the predator increases in larg...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Coomes JR,McIvor GE,Thornton A

    更新日期:2019-10-31 00:00:00

  • Precopulatory stabbing, hypodermic injections and unilateral copulations in a hermaphroditic sea slug.

    abstract::Reciprocity constitutes the prevalent mating mechanism among simultaneous hermaphrodites. Yet, when copulations in the female role confer fitness costs through male manipulation, it becomes advantageous sometimes to mate unilaterally in the male role only. In the sea slug Siphopteron quadrispinosum, acting males stab ...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Anthes N,Michiels NK

    更新日期:2007-04-22 00:00:00

  • Nutrient balance affects foraging behaviour of a trap-building predator.

    abstract::Predator foraging may be affected by previous prey capture, but it is unknown how nutrient balance affects foraging behaviour. Here, we use a trap-building predator to test whether nutrients from previous prey captures affect foraging behaviour. We fed orb-weaving spiders (Zygiella x-notata) prey flies of different nu...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Mayntz D,Toft S,Vollrath F

    更新日期:2009-12-23 00:00:00

  • Eurasian jays (Garrulus glandarius) overcome their current desires to anticipate two distinct future needs and plan for them appropriately.

    abstract::Western scrub-jays (Aphelocoma californica) have been shown to overcome present satiety to cache food they will desire in the future. Here, we show that another corvid, the Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius), can distinguish between two distinct future desires and plan for each appropriately, despite experiencing a co...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Cheke LG,Clayton NS

    更新日期:2012-04-23 00:00:00

  • Stable isotope canopy effects for sympatric monkeys at Tai Forest, Cote d'Ivoire.

    abstract::This study tests the hypothesis that vertical habitat preferences of different monkey species inhabiting closed canopy rainforest are reflected in oxygen isotopes. We sampled bone from seven sympatric cercopithecid species in the Taï forest, Côte d'Ivoire, where long-term study has established taxon-specific patterns ...

    journal_title:Biology letters

    pub_type: 杂志文章


    authors: Krigbaum J,Berger MH,Daegling DJ,McGraw WS

    更新日期:2013-07-10 00:00:00