Plumage coloration in Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus is affected by interactions between foraging site, body condition and sex


Authors: Juan A. AMAT, Araceli GARRIDO, Manuel RENDÓN-MARTOS, Francesca PORTAVIA and Miguel A. RENDÓN

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Published: Volume 69.2, July 2022. Pages 219-229.

Language: English

Keywords: abdominal profile, cosmetic coloration, individual quality, sexual differences and signals


It has been proposed that carotenoid-based pigmentation should indicate the ability of individuals to acquire food and that this should be reflected in their body condition. In this study we examined whether the body condition of Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus was related to plumage coloration and the interaction of both variables with sex and foraging site. To this end, we conducted a field study to collect data on sex-related body condition and plumage coloration at two wetlands in southern Spain. We found that body condition was site-related, that the more colourful individuals were in better body condition, and that females were more colourful and in better body condition than males. Together, the results suggest that females have greater need than males to signal individual quality, likely because females encounter higher intraseasonal costs than males during reproduction, and choosing low-quality females could severely limit breeding success. Also, plumage coloration may signal individual status at foraging sites throughout the year.

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