Biogeographical variation of plumage coloration in the sexually dichromatic Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi (Chlorodrepanis virens)

Journal of Ornithology
By: , and 



Plumage coloration in birds can be of major importance to mate selection, social signaling, or predator avoidance. Variations in plumage coloration related to sex, age class, or seasons have been widely studied, but the effect of other factors such as climate is less known. In this study, we examine how carotenoid-based plumage coloration and sexual dichromatism of the Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi (Chlorodrepanis virens) varies with rainfall and temperature on Hawai‘i Island. We also examined whether Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi plumage coloration patterns follow Gloger’s rule, which states that animals in wetter climates have darker coloration. Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi were mist-netted and banded at 12 sites representing six major climatic zones on Hawai‘i Island. Feather samples were collected from two body regions: the breast and rump. Using spectrophotometry, we recorded coloration using measures of hue, saturation, and brightness. We conducted sex determination by polymerase chain reaction to confirm the sex of birds sampled. We found that the plumage coloration of Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi varied with both temperature and rainfall. ‘Amakihi plumage’s brightness showed a quadratic relationship with rainfall, contrary to Gloger’s rule, and decreased with temperature. Saturation depended on the interaction between temperature and rainfall. Increases in rainfall also increased saturation in warm areas, while they reduced saturation when the temperature was low. Finally, we found chromatic differences among sexes, but sexual dichromatism was not affected by the climatic conditions. This study provides evidence that rainfall and temperature play an important role in determining the plumage traits of Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Biogeographical variation of plumage coloration in the sexually dichromatic Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi (Chlorodrepanis virens)
Series title Journal of Ornithology
DOI 10.1007/s10336-017-1453-8
Volume 158
Issue 4
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center
Description 10 p.
First page 955
Last page 964
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