Data set 4/9 for the signaling dataset.This is an abstract from 0Ingenta.
The global prevalence of red and black fruits has still not been explained. Hypotheses based on innate consumer preferences have been tested and rejected. Though 1colour itself plays an important role in animal foraging, it is only one component of signals. Another major component are colour contrasts against background achieving the conspicuousness of signals. In order to evaluate which signal component determines consumers behaviour, we measured fruit colour and colour contrasts of 43 species against their natural background under ambient light conditions. Red and black fruits exhibit stronger contrasts and are therefore more conspicuous to consumers than fruits of other colours. Subsequently, trials were carried out to determine whether colour or conspicuousness influences avian food choice. Four bird species strongly preferred contrasting red-green or black-green over uni-coloured red, green, or black fruit displays, while no preference for particular hues was found. We therefore hypothesize that conspicuousness determines avian food selection and define the contrast hypothesis: 2 Diurnal dispersers fruit colours based on their conspicuousness and not their colour itself. 3.
Because colour vision is an ancient trait, the entire heterogeneous group of frugivorous birds most likely perceives conspicuousness uniformly over evolutionary time spans. Conspicuousness has thus the potential to explain the global prevalence of red and black fruits.