Swallow signaling, mate choice and evolution.

I have been working on swallows since 1997 as an extension of the research on the aerodynamic effects of birds’ tails. We have shown that the elongated tail is predominantly the result of natural selection and has been secondarily elongated beyond the aerodynamic optimum by sexual selection. We are now involved in a global project, which is a collaboration between myself, Dr R. Safran (Univ. Colorado) and Dr A. Lotem (Tel-Aviv University). We are conducting experiments on the different sub-species of swallows around the world, which vary in their ventral colour and degree of tail ornamentation. We aim to determine what the roles of mate choice and aerodynamics have been in driving phenotypic differentiation in this species. Two of my ex-PhD students - Liu Yu and Nana Li - have recently worked on barn swallows in China.

Dor, R., Safran, R.J., Vortman, Y., Lotem, A., McGowan, A., Evans, M.R. & Lovette, I.J. (2012). Population genetics and morphological comparisons of migratory European (Hirundo rustica rustica) and sedentary East-Mediterranean (Hirundo rustica transitiva) barn swallows. Journal of Heredity, 103: 55-63. doi: 10.1093/jhered/esr114

Rands, S.A., Evans, M.R., Johnstone, R.A. (2011). The dynamics of honesty: modelling the growth of sexually-selected ornaments. PLoS One 6, 11. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027174

Johnstone, R.A., Rands, S.A., & Evans, M.R. (2009) Sexual selection and condition dependence. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 12: 2387-2394. doi:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2009.01822.x

Bro-Jorgensen, J., Johnstone, R.A. & Evans, M.R. (2007) Uninformative exaggeration of male sexual ornaments in barn swallows. Current Biology 17, 850-855. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2007.03.042

© Matthew Evans 2015