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Data from: Juvenile plumage whiteness is associated with the evolution of clutch size in passerines

Cite this dataset

Morales, Judith; Cuervo, Jose Javier; Moreno, Juan; Soler, Juan José (2019). Data from: Juvenile plumage whiteness is associated with the evolution of clutch size in passerines [Dataset]. Dryad.


The offspring of many animals are conspicuous during parental dependence, despite juveniles generally suffering from high predation risk. However, to date, it is unclear whether offspring structural ornaments play a role in intra-family communication. This is the case of conspicuous plumage in young birds, which is worn unchanged during a long period after fledging, when they still depend on their parents. If plumage color facilitates intra-family interactions, its role should be more important in large-brooded species, where the strength of intra-family conflict is potentially stronger. We therefore performed a comparative study in 210 passerine bird species to test whether an offspring structural trait, white plumage, evolves more frequently in lineages with larger clutches. We also explored the number of broods raised per year as another source of intra-family conflict. First, we found that juvenile whiteness was more frequent in open-nesting species. Moreover, in agreement with our prediction, the presence of juvenile white tail/wing patches was strongly and positively associated with clutch size. This relationship was not due to the strong resemblance between offspring and adult plumage, which was controlled for in the statistical analyses. Moreover, the association remained significant after taking into account predation risk, for which there was information for a subset of species. In contrast, juvenile whiteness was not associated with the number of broods raised per year. These results may suggest that the evolution of juvenile conspicuousness is favored in species with potentially stronger intra-brood sibling conflict.

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