Adaptive changes in sexual signalling in response to urbanization

Wouter Halfwerk*, Michiel Blaas, Lars Kramer, Nadia Hijner, Paula A. Trillo, Ximena E. Bernal, Rachel A. Page, Sandra Goutte, Michael J. Ryan, Jacintha Ellers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Urbanization can cause species to adjust their sexual displays, because the effectiveness of mating signals is influenced by environmental conditions. Despite many examples that show that mating signals in urban conditions differ from those in rural conditions, we do not know whether these differences provide a combined reproductive and survival benefit to the urban phenotype. Here we show that male túngara frogs have increased the conspicuousness of their calls, which is under strong sexual and natural selection by signal receivers, as an adaptive response to city life. The urban phenotype consequently attracts more females than the forest phenotype, while avoiding the costs that are imposed by eavesdropping bats and midges, which we show are rare in urban areas. Finally, we show in a translocation experiment that urban frogs can reduce risk of predation and parasitism when moved to the forest, but that forest frogs do not increase their sexual attractiveness when moved to the city. Our findings thus reveal that urbanization can rapidly drive adaptive signal change via changes in both natural and sexual selection pressures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-380
Number of pages7
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Volume3
Early online date10 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

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