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Oxidative stress and signal honesty

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Scientists have long been fascinated by the huge diversity in body colourations and shapes. From the extravagant colours of paradise birds to the horns of ungulates, scientists have asked themselves whether these traits have a role as signals of individual quality and, if so, which information can they ...

Scientists have long been fascinated by the huge diversity in body colourations and shapes. From the extravagant colours of paradise birds to the horns of ungulates, scientists have asked themselves whether these traits have a role as signals of individual quality and, if so, which information can they convey. The theory of honest signalling states that their production should carry costs that only high quality individuals would be able to afford. They also need to be honest; that is, the information they convey needs to be reliable; otherwise, the ornament would be quickly counter selected if individuals were attempting to cheat. These traits do not only play a role in mate choice, but they can also be used in other contexts, such as signalling of individual status in social interactions. But the phenotype is not limited to the body itself. It can extend to other features (e.g., egg colourations) that may also work as honest signals. An important question then is which costs the production of these traits imposes to the individual. It is increasingly recognised that the need to manage oxidative stress in an optimal way may be an important mechanism driving the outcome of many life-history trade-offs, including that of investment of resources between expression of honest signals and self-maintenance mechanisms. Much recent research has focussed on how the building up of body signals induces oxidative stress, and how oxidative stress itself may constrain investment in signalling. The aim of this Research Topic is to draw together current research on the role of oxidative stress in signal honesty. We aim to include articles ranging from single-species studies to comparative analyses exploring the link between oxidative stress and signals, as well as reviews, opinion pieces, and more. We also aim to include articles that focus on the role of signals in different contexts, ranging from mate choice and social competition to parent-offspring communication and warning signalling. Finally, we welcome studies that further an applied side, such as those that focus on the role of honest signals as indicators of environmental quality.


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