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Complex sensory environments alter mate choice outcomes

Citation

Taylor, Ryan (2020), Complex sensory environments alter mate choice outcomes, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.vdncjsxsk

Abstract

Noise is a common problem in animal communication. We know little, however, about how animals communicate in noise using multimodal signals. Multimodal signals are hypothesized to be favoured by evolution because they increase the efficacy of detection/discrimination in noisy environments. We tested the hypothesis that female túngara frogs’ responses to attractive male advertisement calls are improved in noise when a visual cue is added. We tested this at two levels of decision complexity (two and three choices). In a two-choice test, the presence of noise did not reduce female preferences for attractive calls. The visual cue of a calling male, associated with an unattractive call, also did not reduce preference for attractive calls in the absence of noise. In the presence of noise, however, females were more likely to choose an unattractive call coupled with the visual cue. In three-choice tests, the presence of noise alone reduced female responses to attractive calls and this was not strongly affected by the presence or absence of visual cues. The responses in these experiments fail to support the multimodal signal efficacy hypothesis. Instead, the data suggest that audio-visual perception and cognitive processing, related to mate choice decisions, are dependent on the complexity of the sensory scene.

Funding

National Science Foundation, Award: IOS 1120031