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Title:Colorful eggs and plumage in birds: ecological drivers of color patterns filtered through bird visual systems
Author(s):Luro, Alec Bryce
Director of Research:Hauber, Mark E
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hauber, Mark E
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Fuller, Rebecca C; Roca, Alfred L; Hoover, Jeffrey P
Department / Program:Evolution Ecology Behavior
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
brood parasitism
Abstract:Birds use color signals for multiple functions, including attracting and choosing mates, recognizing their own offspring from those of unrelated conspecifics or obligate brood parasites, foraging for different food resources, or hiding from predators. Importantly, an integrative approach is necessary to effectively address how and why birds have evolved to perceive and produce extravagant colors and patterns. Color signal information content, color perception, and cognitive decision rules underlying behaviors in response to color are equally important. The goal of my doctoral dissertation is to understand how birds use colorful signals, including colorful eggs and feathers, to make decisions that affect their fitness. Chapter 1 discusses the implications of categorical perception of color in animals and emphasizes the importance of ecological context in shaping how animals categorize stimuli. Chapter 2 thoroughly tests American robin (Turdus migratorius) perception and categorization of egg color, egg size, and egg pattern features when deciding whether to accept or reject a foreign egg present in the nest. Chapter 3 experimentally tests how American robin color perception and visual acuity integrate when robins view and decide to reject foreign eggs from their nests. Chapter 4 investigates how brood parasite host species phenotypes, shaped by foraging ecology, may constrain or facilitate host species ability to recognize and reject brood parasite eggs from their nests. Chapter 5 assesses how ecological pressures reducing the time available and increasing the effort necessary to find a compatible mate may promote the evolution of plumage sexual dichromatism in true thrushes (Turdus spp.). Overall, results from this dissertation demonstrate that, respectively, colorful eggs and plumage likely serve to facilitate recognition of offspring and mates.
Issue Date:2021-11-23
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Alec Luro
Date Available in IDEALS:2022-04-29
Date Deposited:2021-12

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