Ultraviolet reflectance by the cere of raptors

Mougeot, Francois; Arroyo, Beatriz E.. 2006 Ultraviolet reflectance by the cere of raptors. Biology Letters, 2 (2). 173-176.

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Ultraviolet (UV) signals have been shown to play key roles in social and sexual signalling in birds. Using a spectrophotometer, we analysed the colour of the cere (skin above the beak) of a diurnal raptor, the Montagu's harrier (Circus pygargus), and show that it reflects in the UV part of the spectrum. The cere is a well-known sexual signal in raptors, with carotenoid based pigmentation being indicative of quality. We thus hypothesized that UV reflectance also signals quality. Accordingly, we found that in our sample of wild males, the location of the UV peak was related to the orangeness of cere and correlated with male body mass and condition (mass corrected for size). Also, males with brighter UV were mated to females that laid earlier, as expected if UV reflectance relates to a male's quality and attractiveness. Future studies should investigate the relationships between UV reflectance and carotenoid pigmentation of cere, and test how UV reflectance influences mate choice

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: _ Biodiversity & Population Processes
ISSN: 1744-9561
Format Availability: Electronic, Print
Additional Keywords: colour, sexual signal, Circus pygargus, ultraviolet vision, mate choice
NORA Subject Terms: Zoology
Date made live: 03 Jul 2007 10:34 +0 (UTC)

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