Data from: Birdsong performance and the evolution of simple (rather than elaborate) sexual signals
Cardoso, Gonçalo C.; Hu, Yang (2011), Data from: Birdsong performance and the evolution of simple (rather than elaborate) sexual signals, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.1q424
Sexual signals are often elaborate, due to sexual selection for signals of individual quality. Contrary to expectation, however, the elaboration of signals such as birdsong is not related to the strength of sexual selection across species. With a comparative study across wood warblers (family Parulidae), we show a compromise between advertising the performance of trills (syllable repetitions) and song complexity, which can result in the evolution of simple, rather than elaborate, song. Species with higher trill performance evolved simple songs with more extensive trilled syntax. This advertises trill performance, but reduces syllable diversity in songs. These two traits are commonly sexually selected in songbirds, but indexes of sexual selection were not related to either in wood warblers. This is consistent with sexual selection targeting different traits in different species, sometimes resulting in simple signals. We conclude that the evolution of sexual signals can be unpredictable when their physiology affords multiple or, as here, opposing ways of advertising individual quality.