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Sex in the city: sexual selection and urban colonization in passerines.


ABSTRACT: Urbanization leads to a rapid and drastic transformation of habitats, forcing native fauna to manage novel ecological challenges or to move. Sexual selection is a powerful evolutionary force, which is sometimes predicted to enhance the ability of species to adapt to novel environments because it allows females to choose high-quality males, but other times is predicted to reduce the viability of populations because it pushes males beyond naturally selected optima. However, we do not know whether or how sexual selection contributes to the likelihood that animals will establish in urban areas. We use a comparative analysis of passerine birds to test whether traits associated with pre- and post-mating sexual selection predict successful colonization of urban areas. We found that plumage dichromatism was negatively associated with urban tolerance, but found no relationship with sexual size dimorphism or testes mass relative to body mass. While we cannot determine the exact reason why species with high plumage dichromatism occur less in cities, it is likely that urban areas increase the costs of expressing bright coloration due, for instance, to dietary constraints, limited male parental care or increased predation.

SUBMITTER: Iglesias-Carrasco M 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6769144 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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