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Intersexual and interspecific morphometric variations among three sympatric babbler species from Peninsular Malaysia

CHONG LEONG PUAN, ABDL JALIL NOREHAN, WEI LUN NG, CHRISTINA S.Y. YONG

Abstract


Babblers are the primary understory insectivorous birds in the forests of
Southeast Asia, most of which are sexually monomorphic. With high diversity of
congeneric and sympatric species, babblers are suitable candidates for the study of avian functional ecology in tropical forests. Based on seven morphometric traits measured from the Chestnut-winged babbler (Cyanoderma erythropterum, 31 individuals), Black-capped babbler (Pellorneum capistratum, 22 individuals) and Short-tailed babbler (P. malaccense, 31 individuals) captured in four forests in Peninsular Malaysia, we examined intersexual and interspecific variations of these species using discriminant function analysis (DFA). We found that wing length and weight can be used to distinguish the sexes for the Chestnut-winged babbler with 82.8% accuracy. In the case of Short-tailed babbler, it was
head and tail lengths with 73.3% accuracy. DFA was not conducted for the Black-capped babbler due to small sample size for female birds. The three species discriminated well on the two canonical axes with tail and tarsus lengths being the highest contributors to the first axis (Wilk’s lambda = 0.016, χ2 = 311.907, P < 0.001). Such findings not only will facilitate effective sexing of these birds in the field, but also prompted important future research
questions with respect to functional morphology, trophic diversification and resource partitioning in these birds.


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