The Evolution of Bird Coloration and Plumage Elaboration

A Review of Hypotheses
  • Udo M. Savalli
Part of the Current Ornithology book series (CUOR, volume 12)


Although physically homogeneous, birds come in a wide variety of colors, rivaling butterflies and tropical reef fishes. Such variation invites attention and many hypotheses have been developed to explain the evolution of avian color and pattern. In addition, plumage of birds have structural elaborations that go beyond its insulative and aerodynamic properties including various kinds of ruffs, elongated tails (retrices or coverts), crests, and plumes which I refer to collectively as “ornaments.” Since many hypotheses for the evolution of color and pattern (especially conspicuous colors and patterns) involve communicative functions that apply also to the evolution of ornaments, I treat both color and ornaments in this review.


Sexual Selection Mate Choice Female Choice Wood Warbler Wing Patch 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Udo M. Savalli
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Integrative BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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