Bird Coloration, Volume 1: Mechanisms and Measurements

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Overview

One cannot help being struck with wonder at the vivid pink of 10,000 flamingos rising from Lake Nakuru or the glowing red gorget of a ruby-throated hummingbird feeding outside the kitchen window. How birds produce the brilliant and striking coloration of their feathers and other body parts is the focus of this first volume of Bird Coloration. It has been more than 40 years since the mechanisms of color production of birds have been reviewed and synthesized and in those 40 years new pigments have been discovered, new genetic mechanisms have been described, new theories have been developed, and hundreds of new experiments have been conducted.

Geoffrey Hill and Kevin McGraw have assembled the world's leading experts in perception, measurement, and control of bird coloration to contribute to this book. This sumptuously illustrated volume synthesizes more than 1,500 technical papers in this field. The focus is on the three primary mechanisms of color production--melanin pigmentation, carotenoid pigmentation, and structural coloration--but less common as well as newly described mechanisms of color production are also reviewed in detail. The visual perception of birds and the best ways to collect and analyze color data are, for the first time, presented as part of the review of mechanisms of coloration. This book will be essential reading for biologists studying animal coloration, but it will also be treasured by anyone curious about how birds produce and perceive their bold and brilliant color displays.

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Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement

The aim of Bird Coloration is to provide a flavour of the extent to which birds have exploited the sun's rays...These two volumes also delve deeper into the disparate ways in which bird colours are produced, what purpose they perform, their effect on communities in general, and finally, how they got here in the first place—their evolution...The reference lists alone are priceless...Bird Coloration will appeal to students of, and researchers in, evolution in general, because the devices that cause colour are often considered as phenotypes. Those interested in ecology, animal behaviour and vision studies will benefit, too...And if further incentive is needed to buy these books, just flick through the colour sections.
— Andrew R. Parker

Nature

The two volumes of Bird Coloration provide an excellent up-to-date overview of the topic...Bird coloration is a huge topic and anyone organizing an overview should be heartily congratulated.
— Andrew T. D. Bennett

Wildlife Activist

This anthology of scientific writing in two volumes explains much of what is known about bird coloration and highlights that which we do not know. Subjects like whether the bright coloration of a male Northern Cardinal increases or decreases its chances of being captured by a visual predator like the Cooper’s Hawk are debated...Many of the contributions to this text are scientifically detailed, however, the fascinating subject of bird coloration is presented at a level that the average reader would learn much about this fascinating subject.

— Robert Hoopes

Michael S. Webster
Together, these two volumes present an outstanding collection of contributions, written by leaders in the field and offering a modern, state-of-the-art review of our understanding of bird coloration--including the mechanisms, function, and evolution underlying the variation we see today.
Times Literary Supplement - Andrew R. Parker
The aim of Bird Coloration is to provide a flavour of the extent to which birds have exploited the sun's rays...These two volumes also delve deeper into the disparate ways in which bird colours are produced, what purpose they perform, their effect on communities in general, and finally, how they got here in the first place--their evolution...The reference lists alone are priceless...Bird Coloration will appeal to students of, and researchers in, evolution in general, because the devices that cause colour are often considered as phenotypes. Those interested in ecology, animal behaviour and vision studies will benefit, too...And if further incentive is needed to buy these books, just flick through the colour sections.
Nature - Andrew T. D. Bennett
The two volumes of Bird Coloration provide an excellent up-to-date overview of the topic...Bird coloration is a huge topic and anyone organizing an overview should be heartily congratulated.
Wildlife Activist - Robert Hoopes
This anthology of scientific writing in two volumes explains much of what is known about bird coloration and highlights that which we do not know. Subjects like whether the bright coloration of a male Northern Cardinal increases or decreases its chances of being captured by a visual predator like the Cooper’s Hawk are debated...Many of the contributions to this text are scientifically detailed, however, the fascinating subject of bird coloration is presented at a level that the average reader would learn much about this fascinating subject.
Nature
The two volumes of Bird Coloration provide an excellent up-to-date overview of the topic...Bird coloration is a huge topic and anyone organizing an overview should be heartily congratulated.
— Andrew T. D. Bennett
Times Literary Supplement
The aim of Bird Coloration is to provide a flavour of the extent to which birds have exploited the sun's rays...These two volumes also delve deeper into the disparate ways in which bird colours are produced, what purpose they perform, their effect on communities in general, and finally, how they got here in the first place--their evolution...The reference lists alone are priceless...Bird Coloration will appeal to students of, and researchers in, evolution in general, because the devices that cause colour are often considered as phenotypes. Those interested in ecology, animal behaviour and vision studies will benefit, too...And if further incentive is needed to buy these books, just flick through the colour sections.
— Andrew R. Parker
Wildlife Activist
This anthology of scientific writing in two volumes explains much of what is known about bird coloration and highlights that which we do not know. Subjects like whether the bright coloration of a male Northern Cardinal increases or decreases its chances of being captured by a visual predator like the Cooper’s Hawk are debated...Many of the contributions to this text are scientifically detailed, however, the fascinating subject of bird coloration is presented at a level that the average reader would learn much about this fascinating subject.

— Robert Hoopes

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674018938
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 2/15/2006
  • Pages: 640
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Geoffrey E. Hill is Alumni Professor of Biological Sciences, Auburn University.

Kevin J. McGraw is Assistant Professor of Life Sciences, Arizona State University.

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Table of Contents

Preface

I. Perception and Measurements


1. Color Perception
Innes C. Cuthill


2. Quantification of Coloration
Staffan Andersson and Maria Prager


3. Analyzing Colors
Robert Montgomerie


4. Effects of Light Environment on Color Communication
Marc Théry

II. Mechanisms of Production


5. Mechanics of Carotenoid-based Coloration
Kevin J. McGraw


6. Mechanics of Melanin-based Coloration
Kevin J. McGraw


7. Anatomy, Physics, and Evolution of Structural Colors
Richard O. Prum


8. The Mechanics of Uncommon Colors: Pterins, Porphyrins, and Psittacofulvins
Kevin J. McGraw


9. Cosmetic and Adventitious Colors
Robert Montgomerie

III. Controls and Regulation of Expression


10. Hormonal Control of Coloration
Rebecca T. Kimball


11. The Genetic Basis of Color Variation
Nicholas I. Mundy


12. Environmental Regulation of Ornamental Coloration
Geoffrey E. Hill

Acknowledgments


Contributors


Index

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