Highly polymorphic colour vision in a New World monkey with red facial skin, the bald uakari Cacajao calvus
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Journal titleProceedings of the Royal Society B
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractColour vision is highly variable in New World monkeys (NWMs). Evidence for the adaptive basis of colour vision in this group has largely centred on environmental features such as foraging benefits for differently coloured foods or predator detection, whereas selection on colour vision for sociosexual communication is an alternative hypothesis that has received little attention. The colour vision of uakaris (Cacajao) is of particular interest because these monkeys have the most dramatic red facial skin of any primate, as well as a unique fission/fusion social system and a specialist diet of seeds. Here, we investigate colour vision in a wild population of the bald uakari, C. calvus, by genotyping the X-linked opsin locus. We document the presence of a polymorphic colour vision system with an unprecedented number of functional alleles (six), including a novel allele with a predicted maximum spectral sensitivity of 555 nm. This supports the presence of strong balancing selection on different alleles at this locus. We consider different hypotheses to explain this selection. One possibility is that trichromacy functions in sexual selection, enabling females to choose high-quality males on the basis of red facial coloration. In support of this, there is some evidence that health affects facial coloration in uakaris, as well as a high prevalence of blood-borne parasitism in wild uakari populations. Alternatively, the low proportion of heterozygous female trichromats in the population may indicate selection on different dichromatic phenotypes, which might be related to cryptic food coloration. We have uncovered unexpected diversity in the last major lineage of NWMs to be assayed for colour vision, which will provide an interesting system to dissect adaptation of polymorphic trichromacy.
Rights© 2016 The Authors.. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2016 The Authors.. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.