Inter-signal interaction and uncertain information in anuran multimodal signals
Links to Fileshttps://doi.org/10.1093/czoolo/57.2.153
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Type of Work9 pages
Citation of Original PublicationTaylor, Ryan C., Barrett A. Klein, and Michael J. Ryan. "Inter-signal interaction and uncertain information in anuran multimodal signals." Current Zoology 57, no. 2 (2011): 153-161.
Disentangling the influence of multiple signal components on receivers and elucidating general processes influencing complex signal evolution are difficult tasks. In this study we test mate preferences of female squirrel treefrogs Hyla squirella and female túngara frogs Physalaemus pustulosus for similar combinations of acoustic and visual components of their multimodal courtship signals. In a two-choice playback experiment with squirrel treefrogs, the visual stimulus of a male model significantly increased the attractivness of a relatively unattractive slow call rate. A previous study demonstrated that faster call rates are more attractive to female squirrel treefrogs, and all else being equal, models of male frogs with large body stripes are more attractive. In a similar experiment with female túngara frogs, the visual stimulus of a robotic frog failed to increase the attractiveness of a relatively unattractive call. Females also showed no preference for the distinct stripe on the robot that males commonly bear on their throat. Thus, features of conspicuous signal components such as body stripes are not universally important and signal function is likely to differ even among species with similar ecologies and communication systems. Finally, we discuss the putative information content of anuran signals and suggest that the categorization of redundant versus multiple messages may not be sufficient as a general explanation for the evolution of multimodal signaling. Instead of relying on untested assumptions concerning the information content of signals, we discuss the value of initially collecting comparative empirical data sets related to receiver responses.
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