Barbara Tschirren

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Many vertebrates use carotenoid-based signals in social or sexual interactions. Honest signalling via carotenoids implies some limitation of carotenoid-based colour expression among phenotypes in the wild, and at least five limiting proximate mechanisms have been hypothesized. Limitation may arise by carotenoid-availability, genetic constraints, body(More)
Carotenoid-based colours are widespread in animals and are used as signals in intra- and interspecific communication. In nestling birds, the carotenoids used for feather pigmentation may derive via three pathways: (1) via maternal transfer to egg yolk; (2) via paternal feeds early after hatching when females are mainly brooding; or (3) via feeds from both(More)
Divergent selection pressures among populations can result not only in significant differentiation in morphology, physiology and behaviour, but also in how these traits are related to each other, thereby driving the processes of local adaptation and speciation. In the Australian zebra finch, we investigated whether domesticated stock, bred in captivity over(More)
Oxidative stress has been suggested as a mechanism underlying the costs of reproduction and life history trade-offs. Reproductive activities may lead to high production of pro-oxidants, whose activity can generate oxidative damage when not countered by adequate antioxidant defenses. Because inter-individual differences in the efficiency of the antioxidant(More)
The decision of how far to disperse from the natal territory has profound and long-lasting consequences for young animals, yet the optimal dispersal behavior often depends on environmental factors that are difficult or impossible to assess by inexperienced juveniles. Natural selection thus favors mechanisms that allow the adaptive and flexible adjustment of(More)
Males and females are in conflict over parental care, as it would be favourable for one parent to shift labour to the other. Yolk hormones may offer a mechanism through which female birds could influence offspring traits in ways that increase the relative investment by the male. We studied the role of yolk androgens in mediating sexual conflict over(More)
Egg components are important mediators of prenatal maternal effects in birds and other oviparous species. Because different egg components can have opposite effects on offspring phenotype, selection is expected to favour their mutual adjustment, resulting in a significant covariation between egg components within and/or among clutches. Here we tested for(More)
Quality differences between offspring sired by the social and by an extra-pair partner are usually assumed to have a genetic basis, reflecting genetic benefits of female extra-pair mate choice. In the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), we identified a colour ornament that is under sexual selection and appears to have a heritable basis. Hence, by engaging in(More)
Identifying the genes that underlie phenotypic variation in natural populations, and assessing the consequences of polymorphisms at these loci for individual fitness are major objectives in evolutionary biology. Yet, with the exception of a few success stories, little progress has been made, and our understanding of the link between genotype and phenotype(More)