Evol Ecol Res 1: 549-565 (1999)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Sexual selection and extinction: The fate of plumage-dimorphic and plumage-monomorphic birds introduced onto islands

Denson Kelly McLain,1* Michael P. Moulton2 and James G. Sanderson2

1Department of Biology, Georgia Southern University, PO Box 8042, Statesboro, GA 30460 and 2Department of Wildlife and Conservation, University of Florida, PO Box 110430, Gainesville, FL 32611-0430, USA

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: dk_mclain@gsvms2.cc.gasou.edu


Correlates of the fate of 132 species of birds introduced onto one or more oceanic islands (Hawaii, Kauai, Oahu, Tahiti, La Reunion, Saint Helena, Bermuda, New Zealand and Mauritius) were examined. Introduction success rate was less for species with sexually dichromatic plumage than for species with sexually monochromatic plumage. The diet of introduced sexually monochromatic and dichromatic species did not differ, but a broader diet was associated with higher introduction success rates. In a two-way analysis, plumage and diet had significant effects on the introduction success rate. Species nesting primarily in bushes had higher success rates than those nesting on the ground or in trees. Plumage type was not associated with nest location. Both plumage type and nest location had significant effects on introduction success rate in a two-way analysis. Species of introduced sexually dichromatic birds had a lower rate of bi-parental care than did species of introduced sexually monochromatic birds. However, neither the number of nest-tending parents nor clutch size significantly affected the rate of successful introduction. Sexual selection drives the evolution of sexual dichromatism. Thus, our results suggest that sexual selection indirectly promotes extinction of small, colonizing populations encountering new environmental demands by constraining ecological plasticity and evolutionary response to natural selection pressures.

Keywords: community structure, extinction, introduced birds, islands, sexual selection.

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