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A label of health: a previous immune challenge is reflected in the expression of a female plumage trait.

Publiceringsår: 2008
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 379-381
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Biology Letters
Volym: 4
Nummer: 4
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: Royal Society


Studies of ornaments as indicators of individual quality have hitherto focused on males, while studies of female ornaments have been almost absent. However, females within the same species may show large variation in both outer appearance and individual quality. We experimentally examined the effect of an immune challenge on the size of white fringes in the wing feathers produced one to two months after the challenge in female common eiders (Somateria mollissima), a long-lived sea duck. Immune-challenged females produced feathers with smaller white fringes, showing that a previous immune challenge may affect the expression of a plumage trait. We also report an unexpected difference in the expression of this white plumage trait within the immune-challenged group, related to the specific immune response against one of the injected antigens.


  • Biological Sciences
  • female ornament
  • diphtheria
  • tetanus
  • immune challenge


  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab
  • ISSN: 1744-9561

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