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Solar and terrestrial radiations explain continental-scale variation in bird pigmentation

Animals living on the earth's surface are protected from the damaging effects of solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation by melanin pigments that color their integument. UV levels that reach the earth's surface vary spatially, but the role of UV exposure in shaping clinal variations in animal pigmentation has never been tested. Here it is shown at a continental scale in Europe that golden eagles Aquila chrysaetos reared in territories with a high solar UV-B radiation exposure deposit lower amounts of the sulphurated form of melanin (pheomelanin) in feathers and consequently develop darker plumage phenotypes than eagles from territories with lower radiation exposure. This clinal variation in pigmentation is also explained by terrestrial gamma radiation levels in the rearing territories by a similar effect on the pheomelanin content of feathers, unveiling natural radioactivity as a previously unsuspected factor shaping animal pigmentation. These findings show for the first time the potential of solar and terrestrial radiations to explain pigmentation phenotype diversity in animals, including humans, at large spatial scales. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Galván et al (2018) Solar and terrestrial radiations explain continental-scale variation in bird pigmentation. Oecologia Doi 10.1007/s00442-018-4238-8


https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00442-018-4238-8
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Content with tag animal coloration .

Solar and terrestrial radiations explain continental-scale variation in bird pigmentation

Animals living on the earth's surface are protected from the damaging effects of solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation by melanin pigments that color their integument. UV levels that reach the...

Dynamic signalling in the greater flamingo

Colourful plumage is typical of males in species with conventional sex roles, in which females care for offspring and males compete for females, as well as in many monogamous species in which both...

Molecular vibration as a novel explanatory mechanism for the expression of animal colouration

Animal colouration is characterized by the concentration of pigments in integumentary structures and by the nanoscale arrangement of constitutive elements. However, the influence of molecular...

Is It Possible to Infer Life History Traits from the Coloration of Extinct Species?

Paleo-colour scientists have recently made the transition from describing melanin-based colouration in fossil specimens to inferring life-history traits of the species involved. Two such cases...

Red mud as makeup in the Egyptian vultures

It is well-established that plumage colours are important for avian visual communication and are used to signal social information. Yet, little is known about the ability of birds to modify the...
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