Good Gene Hypothesis: Courtship displays are ancient reproductive strategies that have been tightly associated with elaborate plumage. This elaboration is meant to convey superior fitness to females, however, the mechanism of this is unknown. The prevailing theory detailing this correlation is the “Good Gene Hypothesis”. This theory suggests that exotic or more elaborate plumage serves as a handicap by making them less optimal for flight or running as well as more easily identifiable by predators. However, if a male is able to survive with these additional stressors then a female can infer that they are superior in terms of stamina or survival skills. Furthermore, this theory suggests that plumage can reveal parasite load and hormonal levels as they have both been shown to affect brilliance or color scheme. Due to the high associated cost associated with developing, maintaining and surviving with such elaborate feather schemes, many species have developed post-breeding molting cycles to eliminate these handicaps during the non-breeding seasons.
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