Urbanisation impacts plumage colouration in a songbird across Europe: evidence from a correlational, experimental, and meta-analytical approach

Salmon, P. , López-Idiáquez, D., Capilla-Lasheras, P. , Pérez-Tris, J., Isaksson, C. and Watson, H. (2023) Urbanisation impacts plumage colouration in a songbird across Europe: evidence from a correlational, experimental, and meta-analytical approach. Journal of Animal Ecology, (doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.13982) (Early Online Publication)

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1. Urbanisation is accelerating across the globe, transforming landscapes, presenting organisms with novel challenges, shaping phenotypes and impacting fitness. Urban individuals are claimed to have duller carotenoid-based colouration, compared to their non-urban counterparts, the so-called ‘urban dullness’ phenomenon. However, at the intraspecific level, this generalisation is surprisingly inconsistent and often based on comparisons of single urban/non-urban populations or studies from a limited geographical area. 2. Here, we combine correlational, experimental and meta-analytical data on a common songbird, the great tit Parus major, to investigate carotenoid-based plumage colouration in urban and forest populations across Europe. 3. We find that, as predicted, urban individuals are paler than forest individuals, although there are large population-specific differences in the magnitude of the urban-forest contrast in colouration. Using one focal region (Malmö, Sweden), we reveal population-specific processes behind plumage colouration differences, which are unlikely to be the result of genetic or early-life conditions, but instead a consequence of environmental factors acting after fledging. 4. Finally, our meta-analysis indicates that the urban dullness phenomenon is well established in the literature, for great tits, with consistent changes in carotenoid-based plumage traits, particularly carotenoid chroma, in response to anthropogenic disturbances. 5. Overall, our results provide evidence for uniformity in the ‘urban dullness’ phenomenon but also highlight that the magnitude of the effect on colouration depends on local urban characteristics. Future long-term replicated studies, covering a wider range of species and feeding guilds, will be essential to further our understanding of the eco-evolutionary implications of this phenomenon.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding information: Marie Curie Career Integration Grant FP7-CIG, Grant/Award Number: 322217; Vetenskapsrådet, Grant/Award Number: C0361301
Status:Early Online Publication
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Capilla Lasheras, Dr Pablo and Salmon, Dr Pablo
Authors: Salmon, P., López-Idiáquez, D., Capilla-Lasheras, P., Pérez-Tris, J., Isaksson, C., and Watson, H.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Journal of Animal Ecology
ISSN (Online):1365-2656
Published Online:13 August 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Animal Ecology 2023
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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