The evidence for divergent sexual selection among closely related barn swallow populations is strong

Arnon Lotem*, Yoni Vortman, Rebecca J. Safran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lifjeld's comment provides an opportunity to illustrate the intricacies of the “regression to the mean” (RTM) effect, to clarify the difficulty in teasing apart RTM from allocation bias, and to re-examine our results in relation to RTM and in the context of related evidence. Here, we show that (a) the correlations between paternity change and initial paternity are mathematically expected and can equally be produced when changes are caused by the experimental manipulation itself. (b) The approach taken by Lifjeld to control for RTM is overly conservative because it is based on the unrealistic assumption of zero correlation between individuals’ repeated measurements. Yet, even when using this conservative method, the main effects we originally reported are still detectable. (c) The combined effect of color darkening and tail elongation in Israel is additionally supported by an increase in the number of extra-pair young in other nests and by three independent studies of this population. (d) The experimental effect of color darkening in North America has been replicated successfully and is consistent with multiple correlative studies. Thus, divergent sexual selection in barn swallow populations is supported by both a conservative reanalysis and multiple, independent analyses of experimental and observational datasets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2204-2211
Number of pages8
JournalEvolution; international journal of organic evolution
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Allocation bias
  • mate choice
  • paternity
  • regression to the mean


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