Latest Issue of Science News


News

Dull birds and bright ones beat so-so guys

If you can't look brilliant, forget halfway–decent looks. Go for total loser.

That fashion tip works—in male lazuli buntings—because their blue plumage shows signs of a rarely documented evolutionary pattern called disruptive selection, contend Erick Greene of the University of Montana in Missoula and his colleagues in the Oct. 26 Nature. Disruptive selection favors individuals with either of the opposite extremes of a trait and discourages moderation.

Among year-old males, "the really, really dull guys and the really, really bright guys do best," says coauthor Bruce E. Lyon of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Those extremes tend to win mates and good territories, whereas the males with moderately blue plumage lose out.

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

X
This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.