LOCAL ADAPTATION VS. HISTORICAL ISOLATION AS SOURCES OF MELANIN-BASED COLORATION IN THE WHITE-THROATED THRUSH (TURDUS ASSIMILIS)

Nuñez-Zapata, Jano; Benites, Pilar; Gutiérrez-Arellano, Claudia; Ortiz-Ramírez, Marco; Navarro-Sigüenza, Adolfo

17 June 2018

Local adaptation seems to be one of the causes of variation in melanin-based colors in bird plumages, related mainly to the heterogeneity of the environmental conditions along the distribution of a species. Based on comparisons of genetic (mtDNA sequences), ecological (niche models), and quantitative colorimetric data, we explored variation in plumage coloration of the White-throated Thrush (Turdus assimilis), a Mesoamerican species whose dorsal color varies from brown (northern and central Mexico) to dark gray (southern Mexico and Central America). Our results suggest the existence of two major patterns of coloration in this bird, which are congruent with the genetic structure, and comparisons of ecological niche models showed that population's niches were more similar than expected by chance, suggesting that color variation in plumage of T. assimilis is not consequence of local adaptation to different environmental conditions. Our results also showed that a greater geographic distance between populations is correlated with greater colorimetric differences, suggesting that color variation in T. assimilis may be consequence of historical isolation.

Doi
10.1111/jav.01790