Meta-analysis challenges a textbook example of status signalling and demonstrates publication bias.

TitleMeta-analysis challenges a textbook example of status signalling and demonstrates publication bias.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
JournaleLife
Volume7
Date Published2018
Abstract

The status signalling hypothesis aims to explain within-species variation in ornamentation by suggesting that some ornaments signal dominance status. Here, we use multilevel meta-analytic models to challenge the textbook example of this hypothesis, the black bib of male house sparrows (). We conducted a systematic review, and obtained primary data from published and unpublished studies to test whether dominance rank is positively associated with bib size across studies. Contrary to previous studies, the overall effect size (i.e. meta-analytic mean) was small and uncertain. Furthermore, we found several biases in the literature that further question the support available for the status signalling hypothesis. We discuss several explanations including pleiotropic, population- and context-dependent effects. Our findings call for reconsidering this established textbook example in evolutionary and behavioural ecology, and should stimulate renewed interest in understanding within-species variation in ornamental traits.

URLhttps://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.37385
DOI10.7554/eLife.37385
Short TitleElife
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