Male achromatic wing colouration is related to body condition and female reproductive investment in a dichromatic species, the upland goose
In many bird species, achromatic plumage patch size can serve as a male status signal, but the use of variations in the achromatic colours themselves as a quality signal has only recently come into focus. In our study, we sought to determine whether achromatic plumage reflects individual quality in the upland goose (Chloephaga picta leucoptera). ... We examined the relationship between male head and wing reflectance, male condition and female reproductive investment. We found that males with darker specula and greater contrast between the white wing coverts and the speculum were in a better body condition. Variations in the brightness of the white plumage were not a quality signal in the upland goose. The information gleaned from the wing colouration of male upland geese could be used during mate selection, when females choose their mate on the basis of the outcomes of aggressive encounters. During these fights, the males expose their white coverts and their specula, which are normally tucked beneath body feathers.
Original publication in
Journal of Ethology 29 (2011), 243-249