In some passerines, parents allocate more food to offspring with the brightest red gapes, but the function of parental decisions based on offspring gape coloration is unknown. We hypothesize that gape coloration is part of a communication system where nestlings reveal their condition to attending parents, which may thus base their decisions on reliable signals of offspring reproductive value. We analyze the effects of brood size manipulation, injection with an immunogen and food deprivation, on gape coloration, morphology, and T-cell-mediated immunocompetence of nestling barn swallows (Hirundo rustica). For each gape we measured three components of coloration (hue, saturation, and brightness) and obtained an overall color score by principal component analysis. Enlargement of brood size and injection with an antigen resulted in less red and less saturated and brighter gape color. Nestlings in enlarged broods had smaller body mass and T-cell-mediated immunocompetence compared to those in reduced broods. A positive covariation existed between redness and saturation of gape color and T-cell-mediated immunocompetence. Gape color siblings raised in different nests did not depend on parentage. Thus, condition-dependent gape coloration can reveal different components of nestling state on which parents may base their adaptive decisions about allocation of care to the offspring.
|Titolo:||Gape coloration reliably reflects immunocompetence of barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) nestlings|
|Parole Chiave:||Begging; Food provisioning; Parent-offspring conflict; Parental food allocation; Reproductive value|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore BIO/07 - Ecologia|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2003|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1093/beheco/14.1.16|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01 - Articolo su periodico|