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A global analysis of bird plumage patterns reveals no association between habitat and camouflage [PeerJ]

Keywords : biodiversity, ecology, evolutionary studies, zoology

par Frédéric Magné - publié le

Evidence suggests that animal patterns (motifs) function in camouflage. Irregular mottled patterns can facilitate concealment when stationary in cluttered habitats, whereas regular patterns typically prevent capture during movement in open habitats. Bird plumage patterns have predominantly converged on just four types—mottled (irregular), scales, bars and spots (regular)—and habitat could be driving convergent evolution in avian patterning. Based on sensory ecology, we therefore predict that irregular patterns would be associated with visually noisy closed habitats and that regular patterns would be associated with open habitats. Regular patterns have also been shown to function in communication for sexually competing males to stand-out and attract females, so we predict that male breeding plumage patterns evolved in both open and closed habitats. Here, taking phylogenetic relatedness into account, we investigate ecological selection for bird plumage patterns across the class Aves.(...)

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