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Evolving communication systems in response to altered sensory environments

Project description

How species adapt their signals to the sensory environment

Animals interact and communicate using signals. This can include visual, auditory or sound-based as well as chemical signals. In line with evolutionary ecology theory, the signals adapt to the environment. There are many questions worth exploring. For instance, how do signals adapt and how does this impact the selection pressures operating on animal behaviour? To answer these questions, the EU-funded CITISENSE project will investigate how the neotropical frog adapts to noise and light pollution. Specifically, it will explore how the male frogs adjust their signals to altered sensory environments. Researchers will investigate how signals evolve in response to direct and indirect selection pressures. They will also assess the inter- and intra-sexual responses to signal divergence between urban and forest populations.

Objective

How animal communication systems evolve is a fundamental question in ecology and evolution and crucial for our understanding of adaptation and speciation. I will make use of the process of urbanization to address how communication signals adapt to changes in the sensory environment. I will focus on the impact of noise and light pollution on acoustic communication of Neotropical frogs and address the following questions:

1) How do senders, such as a male frog, adjust their signals to altered sensory environments? I will assess plasticity and heritability of signal divergence found between urban and forest populations of the tungara frog. 2) How do signals evolve in response to direct (via sender) and indirect (via receivers) selection pressures? I will expose forest sites to noise and light pollution, parse out importance of multiple selection pressures and carry out experimental evolution using artificial phenotypes.
3) What are the evolutionary consequences of signal divergence? I will assess inter-and-intra sexual responses to signal divergence between urban and forest populations. 4) Can we predict how species adapt their signals to the sensory environment? I will use a trait-based comparative approach to study signal divergence among closely related species with known urban populations.

Our state-of-the-art automated sender-receiver system allows for experimental evolution using long-lived species and opens new ways to study selection pressures operating on animal behaviour under real field conditions. Our expected results will provide crucial insight into the early stages of signal divergence that may ultimately lead to reproductive isolation and speciation.

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Coordinator

STICHTING VU
Net EU contribution
€ 1 500 000,00
Address
De boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
Netherlands

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Region
West-Nederland Noord-Holland Groot-Amsterdam
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
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Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)