The modelling of avian visual perception predicts behavioural rejection responses to foreign egg colours

Phillip Cassey, Marcel Honza, Tomas Grim, Mark E. Hauber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

How do birds tell the colours of their own and foreign eggs apart? We demonstrate that perceptual modelling of avian visual discrimination can predict behavioural rejection responses to foreign eggs in the nest of wild birds. We use a photoreceptor noise-limited colour opponent model of visual perception to evaluate its accuracy as a predictor of behavioural rates of experimental egg discrimination in the song thrush Turdus philomelos. The visual modelling of experimental and natural eggshell colours suggests that photon capture from the ultraviolet and short wavelength-sensitive cones elicits egg rejection decisions in song thrushes, while inter-clutch variation of egg coloration provides sufficient contrasts for detecting conspecific parasitism in this species. Biologically realistic sensory models provide an important tool for relating variability of behavioural responses to perceived phenotypic variation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-517
Number of pages3
JournalBiology Letters
Volume4
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 23 2008
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Birds
  • Brood parasitism
  • Egg rejection
  • Eggshell colour
  • Visual perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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