The Molecular Costs of Being Sexually Attractive: A Quantatative Assessment of Carotenoid Limitations for Coloration and Self_Maintenance

Project: Research project

Project Details


I am writing to request REU supplement funding for my current NSF grant The molecular costs of being sexually attractive: a quantitative assessment of carotenoid limitations for coloration and self-maintenance (IOS-0746364). This research project examines priorities and trade-offs in carotenoid allocation to coloration and health in birds. This REU supplement will fund an undergraduate student who will be working directly with the postdoctoral researcher (Melissah Rowe) and myself (Kevin McGraw). Specifically, research will determine (1) levels of dietary carotenoids that birds require to maximize health and coloration, (2) if health or coloration receives priority for carotenoid investment, and (3) whether carotenoids are truly limited in the diet, such that some individuals cannot meet the carotenoid demands of both health and coloration. We will accomplish these goals by measuring carotenoid-based coloration and health in captive populations of two species of waterfowl in which we manipulate amounts of dietary carotenoids the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and the northern pintail (Anas acuta). Furthermore, the student will be strongly encouraged to develop and conduct an independent research project during the summer. The REU supplement will provide an exciting and intellectually stimulating research experience for an undergraduate, and will contribute to our understanding of animal coloration and honest signaling.
Effective start/end date4/1/083/31/12


  • NSF: Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO): $351,392.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.