Disease affects carotenoid-based turtle coloration and may function as a condition-dependent indicator trait.

Authors

  • John Steffen Shepherd University
  • Dominik Webster Shepherd University
  • Dominik Webster Shepherd University

Keywords:

carotenoid, color, disease, indicator trait, reptile, stripes, spots, turtle

Abstract

Carotenoids are photo-accessory pigments found in plants that provide animals with integumentary color as well as a variety of immunological benefits. Carotenoids that are deposited in the feather or skin to adverstise color must ultimately be obtained, ingested, absorbed and delivered to an integumentary site. However, carotenoids that serve immune functions cannot be used for integumentary display. As a result, carotenoid-based feather and skin color often indicates condition-dependent (i.e. immunological) phenotypic information because the pigments must be use for one or the other—but not both—roles. Support for the condition-dependent and sexually selective role of carotenoid-based turtle spots and stripes is equivocal. Here we show that carotenoid ingestion—and carotenoid-based color—is affected by Emydomyces testavorans fungal infection on the carapace, indicating that stripe and spot color could advertise immunological health altered by fungal infection and function as a condition-dependent indicator trait. This adds to other indirect evidence that painted turtle stripe and color may serve as sexually selective role.

Author Biographies

John Steffen, Shepherd University

I am an Assistant Professor in biology in Shepherd University's Biology Department

Dominik Webster, Shepherd University

I am a biology student at Shepherd University.

Dominik Webster, Shepherd University

I am a biology student at Shepherd University.

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Published

2020-04-29

How to Cite

Steffen, J., Webster, D., & Webster, D. (2020). Disease affects carotenoid-based turtle coloration and may function as a condition-dependent indicator trait. Proceedings of the West Virginia Academy of Science, 92(1). Retrieved from https://pwvas.org/index.php/pwvas/article/view/719

Issue

Section

Meeting Abstracts-Poster