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Data from: Noise affects the shape of female preference functions for acoustic signals

Cite this dataset

Reichert, Michael S.; Ronacher, Bernhard (2014). Data from: Noise affects the shape of female preference functions for acoustic signals [Dataset]. Dryad.


The shape of female mate preference functions influences the speed and direction of sexual signal evolution. However, the expression of female preferences is modulated by interactions between environmental conditions and the female's sensory processing system. Noise is an especially relevant environmental condition because it interferes directly with the neural processing of signals. Although noise is therefore likely a significant force in the evolution of communication systems, little is known about its effects on preference function shape. In the grasshopper Chorthippus biguttulus, female preferences for male calling song characteristics are likely to be affected by noise because its auditory system is sensitive to fine temporal details of songs. We measured female preference functions for variation in male song characteristics in several levels of masking noise and found strong effects of noise on preference function shape. The overall responsiveness to signals in noise generally decreased. Preference strength increased for some signal characteristics and decreased for others, largely corresponding to expectations based on neurophysiological studies of acoustic signal processing. These results suggest that different signal characteristics will be favored under different noise conditions, and thus that signal evolution may proceed differently depending on the extent and temporal patterning of environmental noise.

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