The Cost of Being Bright

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Male ornaments are predicted to be a signal of the genetic quality of a male but often the relationship between ornaments and the physiological performances of males is unclear. Males of Metichnogaster cillipennis, a hover-wasp, during their courtship flights send luminous signals to females by using two abdominal reflectors. Malpighian tubules, an essential organ in the physiology of insects, participate in the building of the larger of these reflectors but at a physiological cost. By evaluating the capacity of light reflection from males during their courtship, females can assess directly the physiological quality of males.

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