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Metal exposure influences the melanin and carotenoid-based colorations in great tits

Giraudeau, M.; Mateos-Gonzalez, F.; Cotín, J.; Pagani-Nuñez, E.; Torné-Noguera, A.; Senar, J.C.

Authors

M. Giraudeau

F. Mateos-Gonzalez

J. Cotín

A. Torné-Noguera

J.C. Senar



Abstract

Metals are naturally found in the environment but are also emitted through anthropogenic activities, raising some concerns about the potential deleterious effects of these elements on wildlife. The potential effects of metals on bird coloration have been the focus of several recent studies since animal colored-signals often reflect the physiology of their bearers and are thus used by animals to assess the quality of another individual as a mate or competitor. These studies have shown that the melanin pigmentation seems to be positively associated and the carotenoid-based coloration negatively associated with metal exposure in wild birds. Although these studies have been very useful to show the associations between metal exposure and coloration, only few of them have actually quantified the levels of metal exposure at the individual level; always focusing on one or two of them. Here, we measured the concentrations of eight metals in great tits' feathers and then assessed how these levels of metals were associated with the carotenoid and melanin-based colorations. We found that the melanin pigmentation was positively associated with the copper concentration and negatively correlated with the chromium concentration in feathers. In addition, we have shown that the carotenoid-based coloration was negatively associated with the feather's mercury concentration. This study is the first one to identify some metals that might affect positively and negatively the deposition of melanin and carotenoid into the plumage of wild birds.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 4, 2015
Online Publication Date Jun 20, 2015
Publication Date 2015-11
Deposit Date Nov 2, 2022
Journal Science of the Total Environment
Print ISSN 0048-9697
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 532
Pages 512-516
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.06.021
Keywords Metal pollution, Plumage coloration, Melanin, Carotenoid, Parus major, Ornaments
Public URL http://researchrepository.napier.ac.uk/Output/2946718