Measuring individual variation in colour: a comparison of two techniques


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Objective and reliable assessment of animal colouration is of great value to workers in the biological sciences. We present the results of a comparison between two colour measurement techniques: Munsell colour standard matching and spectroradiometry. As part of ongoing research on sexual selection in red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus), eather and comb colour of 49 roosters was measured using both techniques. Previous research showed that hens use variation in feather and comb colour in mate choice, and we allowed hens to choose between paired roosters. Colour matching and spectroradiometry scores were generally correlated, but spectroradiometry was more sensitive in detecting variation and also provided a better estimate of the role of secondary sexual characters in male mating success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-173
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1994


  • Colouration
  • Munsell
  • colour measurement
  • secondary sex characters
  • spectroradiom

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