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Ontogeny of sexual dimorphism in the Long-tailed Manakin Chiroxiphia linearis: long maturation of display trait morphology

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Males of dimorphic species often show ornaments that are thought to have evolved through female choice or/and male–male competition. The sexual differentiation of similar morphologies occurs during ontogeny, resulting in differential sex and age-specific selection. The Long-tailed Manakin is a dimorphic species with a highly skewed mating system, the males of which delay plumage maturation over 3 to 4 years. We describe ontogenetic changes in feather morphology in this species through sexual maturity. Males showed a significant increase in length of the central rectrices with age, hence their degree of sexual dimorphism increased from zero in 1-year-old males to 189.5% in adults. In contrast, male tail length decreased with age. Wing length did not vary significantly with age, but females had relatively longer wings than males. Wing loading was greater in females and decreased with age in males. In adults, rectrix length was positively correlated with testis volume, supporting the hypothesis that secondary sexual characters can signal the condition of primary sexual characters. Rectrix length showed positive allometry with body size in males less than 4 years old, whereas older males showed negative allometry and females showed isometry. Wing area and wing loading shifted from negative to positive allometry in males of 2 to 3 years of age. Changes in male morphology during ontogeny in the Long-tailed Manakin appeared to be associated with their specific display behaviours. Age-related changes in allometric growth of rectrices in the Long-tailed Manakin suggested that young males invest disproportionately more in the length of this trait relative to their body size. This investment could act as a signal of competitive ability to move status position in their orderly queue.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-10-01

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