Tail streamer function and sexual selection in the red-tailed tropicbird

Veit, Allison C. (2003) Tail streamer function and sexual selection in the red-tailed tropicbird. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

The function of the elongated tail streamers of male and female Red-tailed Tropicbirds (Phaethon rubricauda) was studied on Tern Island (23°45' N, 166°15' W), French Frigate Shoals, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands from April to August 2000, February to May 2001, and January and February 2002. Adults were marked with a numbered steel leg band and sexed genetically or by cloacal morphology. Streamers are the two filamentous central rectrices, each with a black rachis and narrow red vane and averaging 399 mm in length when fully grown. The streamers molt alternately, with adults displaying one fully grown and one growing streamer throughout most of the year. The use of streamers in aerial courtship displays, together with the brief period when fully grown streamers coincide with the pre-laying period, strongly suggest a sexually-selected function for this spectacular tail ornament. My data are consistent with functions of tail streamers to attract mates, but suggest that variability in expression is arbitrary and hence streamers cannot signal an individual’s "quality" in choice of mate.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/6976
Item ID: 6976
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references.
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Biology
Date: 2003
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Hawaii
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Red-tailed tropicbird--Hawaii--Anatomy; Red-tailed tropicbird--Behavior--Hawaii; Sexual selection in animals--Hawaii; Courtship in animals--Hawaii

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