Multiple aspects of condition influence a heritable sexual trait

a synthesis of the evidence for capture of genetic variance in red junglefowl

Timothy H. Parker*, J. David Ligon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A long-standing question in the study of sexual selection is: if an attractive male trait signals heritable aspects of quality, how does genetic variation associated with that trait persist in the face of directional selection? It has been proposed that sensitivity to condition in general could allow a sexual signal to show heritable variation even under persistent directional selection. The multitude of genes underlying components of condition present a large target for mutation, and so genetic variance in condition may not be readily exhausted by selection. Insights gained in studies of the red junglefowl are relevant to this hypothesis, and provide a model for research in other systems. The fleshy comb of male red junglefowl is among the best-studied sexual signals. Multiple components of condition, such as health, immune function, testosterone, and social status, influence comb growth, and, in the present study, we provide the first comprehensive integration of this large body of evidence to lay out the compelling case for condition-dependence of the junglefowl comb. Variation in comb size is heritable and, most important to this issue, is genetically correlated with heritable variation in a body condition index. Although understanding of the red junglefowl's comb is far from complete, it exceeds our understanding of many other sexual signals and provides an empirical model for the study of condition-dependent signals in general. (c) 2007 The Linnean Society of London.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-660
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Volume92
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • genic capture
  • Houle
  • lek paradox
  • quantitative genetics
  • Rowe
  • ENDOCRINE-IMMUNE INTERACTIONS
  • GALLUS-GALLUS
  • MATE CHOICE
  • LEK PARADOX
  • IMMUNOCOMPETENCE-HANDICAP
  • ECOLOGICAL IMMUNOLOGY
  • QUANTITATIVE GENETICS
  • SOCIAL-ORGANIZATION
  • MATING PREFERENCES
  • ANTIBODY-RESPONSES

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