A Red Bird in a Brown Bag

A Red Bird in a Brown Bag : The Function and Evolution of Colorful Plumage in the House Finch

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This is an account of studies of the function and evolution of colorful plumage in the House Finch. It is also an engaging study on the evolution of sexual selection in birds and a lively portrait of the challenges and constraints of experimental design facing any field investigator working with animal behavior. Part I sets the stage for modern studies of the function of plumage coloration with a review of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. Part II focuses on the proximate control and present function of plumage coloration. Part III takes a more explicitly evolutionary approach to the study of plumage coloration using biogeography and phylogeny to test hypotheses for why specific forms of plumage color display have evolved. It concludes with an account of comparative studies that have been conducted in the House Finch and other cardueline finches and the insight these studies have provided on the evolution of carotenoid-based ornamental coloration.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 332 pages
  • 156 x 236 x 20mm | 598.75g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 3 halftones & numerous line figures
  • 0195148487
  • 9780195148480

Table of contents

Part 1: Prelude ; 1. Darwinism and Wallacism: A Brief Account of the Long History of the Study of Plumage Coloration ; 2. A Red Bird in a Brown Bag: An Introduction to the House Finch ; 3. In the Eye of the Beholder: Color Vision and the Quantification of Colour ; Part 2: The Proximate Control and Function of Red Plumage ; 4. You Are What You Eat: Plumage Pigments and Carotenoid Physiology ; 5. A Matter of Condition: The Effect of Environment on Plumage Coloration ; 6. Darwin Vindicated: Female Choice and Sexual Selection in the House Finch ; 7. Fine Fathers and Good Genes: The Direct and Indirect benefits of female choice ; 8. Studs, Duds, and Studly Duds: Plumage Coloration, Hormones, and Dominance ; 9. The Feeling's Mutual: Female Plumage Coloration and Male Mate Choice ; Part 3: Biogeography and the Evolution of Colorful Plumage ; 10. From the Halls of Montezuma, to the Shores of Tripoli (New York): Populations, Subspecies, and Geographic Variation in Ornamental Coloration ; 11. Why Red?: The Evolution of Color Display ; Epilogue ; Glossary
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Review quote

Geoff Hill shows just how valuable it is to tackle a topic from many directions and to stick at it: new research avenues always emerge ... in this book you will find him fairly open-minded and receptive to a multifactorial explanation. A very good read. * Ibis * Hill's book is, thus far, probably the most complete study of the function and control of plumage pigmentation in a single bird species. It was an easy read because of Hill's ability to write clearly and creatively, and to present ideas in a logical order. * Bird Study *
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