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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Organismic and Evolutionary Biology

Year Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Ethan D. Clotfelter

Second Advisor

Ryan Earley

Third Advisor

Patricia Brennan

Subject Categories

Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Nutrition


The carotenoid tradeoff hypothesis states that diet-derived carotenoids are tradedoff among competing physiological demands, but this statement is rarely tested in ornamented females. The following dissertation tests the carotenoid tradeoff hypothesis in reverse sexually dimorphic convict cichlids (Amantitlania siquia) using carotenoidsupplemented diet treatments and a field-based study of carotenoid intake. Spectral, microscopic, and chemical analysis determined how females allocated the pigments to tissues and how those decisions affected their ventral patch coloration. The results presented in the current study show that carotenoids enhance offspring growth and survival, lower oxidative stress, and reduce the time to clear a parasite. The two final chapters suggest that carotenoid limitation and absorption may not explain carotenoid allocation dynamics in A. siquia. The final chapter proposes an alternative to the carotenoid tradeoff hypothesis as a mechanism to explain the relationship among color, parasites, and oxidative stress.