Pre-breeding diet influences ornament size in the Rhinoceros Auklet
Understanding the mechanisms that influence variation in sexually selected ornaments in seabirds has been challenging owing to the difficulty of capturing and sampling individuals outside of the breeding period when ornaments are usually grown.
Stable carbon (03B413C) and nitrogen (03B415N) isotopes were used to examine the influence of pre-breeding diet composition on ornament size in the Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata, a socially monogamous seabird that breeds in the North Pacific. We analysed stable isotopes in adult feathers grown during the pre-alternate moult, which allowed us to infer diet composition during the pre-breeding (February2013March) period. Females that fed more on inshore fish had larger horns than females that fed more on euphausiids (also known as krill; Euphausiacea). Body size was a stronger predictor of horn height in males than females, suggesting that ornaments may serve as different signals for each sex. This study provides evidence that diet during the pre-breeding period can influence ornament size and emphasizes the importance of understanding individual ecology throughout the annual cycle for determining the factors that influence mate choice and fitness
Title: Pre-breeding diet influences ornament size in the Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata
Authors: Marjorie C Sorensen, J Mark Hipfner, T Kurt Kyser, D Ryan Norris
Source: Ibis , 2010, volume 152, issue 1