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1 July 2001 Visual Signals for Individual Identification: The Silent “Song” of Ruffs
David B. Lank, James Dale
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Breeding male Ruffs (Philomachus pugnax) appear to communicate individual identity through extreme variation in coloration and pattern of their plumages. If plumage variation evolved to provide sufficient information to signal individual identity, we might expect different plumage components to vary independently. We find that variation in four plumage characteristics is largely independent. Previous studies produced conflicting answers about plumage-component independence, perhaps because they failed to separate two genetically distinct behavioral categories of males, which differ in plumage types, in their analysis. We propose that using plumage variation to signal individual identity, rather than voice (used by most other bird species) was favored by lengthy daytime male display in open habitats in close proximity to receivers. However, signaling associated with the unique dimorphism in this species' male mating behavior might also have influenced the evolution of extraordinary plumage diversity in this species.

David B. Lank and James Dale "Visual Signals for Individual Identification: The Silent “Song” of Ruffs," The Auk 118(3), 759-765, (1 July 2001).[0759:VSFIIT]2.0.CO;2
Received: 4 August 2000; Accepted: 1 February 2001; Published: 1 July 2001
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