Research Topic

Multimodal Mating Signals: Evolution, Genetics and Physiological Background

About this Research Topic

The role of multiple cues in mate choice has been much discussed. In many animals, signals of different modalities, such as acoustic, visual, chemical or mechanical, are given simultaneously. When males produce a variety of signal types, it is often not clear whether all of these signals are important in female mate choice. Some traits are highly conserved, others are flexible. It is suggested that some cues provide species-specific identification, whereas others are important in intraspecific mate choice. How to distinguish these cues from one another? There are several ways to study this problem, in particular, testing receivers (usually females) with supernormal key stimuli in behavioral experiments. An idea that super-responsive receivers might exert selection pressure on the transmitter gave rise to the “sensory exploitation hypothesis”. In some cases, a male trait is favored by selection apparently because it fits preexisting features of the female sensory system.

It is suggested that long-distance mating signals are used for species identification and localization, and therefore, are subject to mainly natural selection. The long-distance signals (mainly chemical and acoustic ones) should contain a set of characters which would be reliably detected against a background noise and differentiated from the signals of other sympatric species. Moreover, the long-distance signals are constrained by eavesdropping predators. By contrast, close-range signals used during courtship, which usually comprise different modalities, are free of constraints mentioned above. Courtship signals sometimes reach of an extreme complexity and these signals seem to offer even redundant information for female choice. We suggest that close-range mating signals provide an excellent substrate for sexual selection, and are interested in how selection pressures vary depending on sensory modality or part of signaling pathway (sender – receiver).

The aim of this Research Topic is to focus on possible mechanisms underlying multimodal signaling and mate preferences for multiple traits, and to discuss the “multimodal mating signals” in terms of evolution, natural and sexual selection, genetics and physiological background.


Keywords: long-distance communication, eavesdropping, courtship behavior, mate choice, sexual selection


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The role of multiple cues in mate choice has been much discussed. In many animals, signals of different modalities, such as acoustic, visual, chemical or mechanical, are given simultaneously. When males produce a variety of signal types, it is often not clear whether all of these signals are important in female mate choice. Some traits are highly conserved, others are flexible. It is suggested that some cues provide species-specific identification, whereas others are important in intraspecific mate choice. How to distinguish these cues from one another? There are several ways to study this problem, in particular, testing receivers (usually females) with supernormal key stimuli in behavioral experiments. An idea that super-responsive receivers might exert selection pressure on the transmitter gave rise to the “sensory exploitation hypothesis”. In some cases, a male trait is favored by selection apparently because it fits preexisting features of the female sensory system.

It is suggested that long-distance mating signals are used for species identification and localization, and therefore, are subject to mainly natural selection. The long-distance signals (mainly chemical and acoustic ones) should contain a set of characters which would be reliably detected against a background noise and differentiated from the signals of other sympatric species. Moreover, the long-distance signals are constrained by eavesdropping predators. By contrast, close-range signals used during courtship, which usually comprise different modalities, are free of constraints mentioned above. Courtship signals sometimes reach of an extreme complexity and these signals seem to offer even redundant information for female choice. We suggest that close-range mating signals provide an excellent substrate for sexual selection, and are interested in how selection pressures vary depending on sensory modality or part of signaling pathway (sender – receiver).

The aim of this Research Topic is to focus on possible mechanisms underlying multimodal signaling and mate preferences for multiple traits, and to discuss the “multimodal mating signals” in terms of evolution, natural and sexual selection, genetics and physiological background.


Keywords: long-distance communication, eavesdropping, courtship behavior, mate choice, sexual selection


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

31 January 2018 Abstract
30 April 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

31 January 2018 Abstract
30 April 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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