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Wild Birds Prefer the Familiar Colour Pattern When Feeding on Similar Artificial Morphs

Deborah L. Raymond and John A. Allen
Oikos
Vol. 57, No. 2 (Feb., 1990), pp. 175-179
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
DOI: 10.2307/3565937
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3565937
Page Count: 5
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Wild Birds Prefer the Familiar Colour Pattern When Feeding on Similar Artificial Morphs
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Abstract

Apostatic (frequency-dependent) selection by visually hunting predators could be responsible for maintaining colour polymorphisms in prey species. We report here the results of six experiments on wild birds feeding on 'populations' of two similar green 'morphs' of an artificial prey which had a single dark green stripe or were plain. Birds foraging on lawns were fed on one type and then given a choice of equal numbers of the two; they were then fed on the second type and again given a choice. In four experiments each training period lasted one day; in the remaining two experiments, five days. The results showed that birds tended to prefer the familiar prey - even after the shorter training sessions. Although training effects are not a prerequisite for apostatic selection we conclude that the results provide evidence for behaviour that could lead to the maintenance of prey polymorphisms in which morphs are differentiated by the presence or absence of inconspicuous patterns.

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