Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Females can place limits on evolution of attractive features in males, research shows

05.08.2011
Female cognitive ability can limit how melodious or handsome males become over evolutionary time, biologists from The University of Texas at Austin, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute have observed.

Males across the animal world have evolved elaborate traits to attract females, from huge peacock tails to complex bird songs and frog calls. But what keeps them from getting more colorful feathers, longer tails, or more melodious songs? Predators, for one. Increased elaboration can draw predators in, placing an enormous cost to males with these sexy traits.

In a new paper appearing this week in Science, a group of biologists have shown that females themselves can also limit the evolution of increased elaboration.

Studying neotropical túngara frogs, they found that females lose their ability to detect differences in male mating calls as the calls become more elaborate.

... more about:
»females »integrative biology »male frogs

"We have shown that the female túngara frog brains have evolved to process some kinds of information and not others," says Mike Ryan, professor of integrative biology at The University of Texas at Austin, "and that this limits the evolution of those signals."

Imagine looking at a group of five oranges next to a group of six. At a glance, you would quickly notice that one group has one more orange than the other. Now, imagine looking at a pile of 100 oranges next to a pile of 101. It would be nearly impossible for you to notice the difference in size (one orange) between those two piles at a glance. This is known as Weber's Law, which states that stimuli are compared based on proportional differences rather than absolute differences (one orange in the case above).

In túngara frogs, males gather en masse to attract female frogs with a call that is made up of a longer "whine" followed by one or more short "chucks."

Through a series of experiments conducted in Panama, Ryan and his collaborators found that females prefer male calls with the most chucks, but their preference was based on the ratio of the number of chucks. As males elaborate their call by adding more chucks, their relative increase in attractiveness decreases due to a perceptual constraint on the part of females.

Male túngara frog calls also attract a predator: the frog eating fringe-lipped bat. To confirm that male song elaboration wasn't limited by these predators, the researchers also studied how the bats respond to additional "chucks" in the male call.

They discovered that hunting bats choose their prey based on chuck number ratio, just as the female frogs do. So, as males elaborate their call by adding chucks, the relative increase in predation risk decreases with each additional chuck.

"What this tells us is that predation risk is unlikely to limit male call evolution," says Karin Akre, lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin. "Instead, it is the females' cognition that limits the evolution of increasing chuck number."

Additional contacts:

Lee Clippard, public affairs, 512-232-0675, lclippard@mail.utexas.edu

Mike Ryan, professor of integrative biology, 512-471-5078, mryan@mail.utexas.edu

Karin Akre | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utexas.edu

Further reports about: females integrative biology male frogs

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>