In the context of sexual selection carotenoid based signals are candidates for indicator traits: they have to be taken up in the diet by animals, they can indicate the ability of the bearer to accumulate a limited resource, and they help in maintaining the health status. We investigated the yellow-orange colouration of the tarsi of the kestrel Falco tinnunculus in relation to sex, diet and to different aspects of male reproductive behaviour. The colouration of the tarsi (estimated as hue) was more intense in males than in females. Among males, the tarsi hue was associated with the intake of invertebrates; this was true also if the population diet was based mainly on voles. Carotenoid based colouration was positively associated with the number of vertebrate preys delivered to the nest per time unit and with territory quality (calculated on the basis of home-range size, habitat extension and prey availability). These results are consistent with predictions derived from good-parent models of sexual selection, suggesting that in the common kestrel carotenoid based colouration is important as an indicator of male quality.
SKIN CAROTENOID CONCENTRATION CORRELATES WITH MALE HUNTING SKILL AND TERRITORY QUALITY IN THE KESTREL Falco tinnunculus / S.CASAGRANDE; D.CSERMELY; E.PINI; V.BERTACCHE; TAGLIAVINI J.. - In: JOURNAL OF AVIAN BIOLOGY. - ISSN 0908-8857. - 37(2006), pp. 190-196. [10.1111/j.0908-8857.2006.03515.x]