Feb 11, 2016

Social selection maintains honesty of a dynamic visual signal in cichlid fish

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Judith C BachmannHugo F Gante

Abstract

How honest signals evolve is a question that has been hotly debated by animal communication theoreticians and for which empirical evidence has been difficult to obtain. Theory predicts that, due to strong conflicts of interest, communication in aggressive contexts should be under strong selection for clear and reliable signaling. On the other hand, context-dependent signaling increases cheating opportunities, depending on how senders and receivers use, acquire and process signal information. Using animal signaling theory, theoretical visual models and behavioral experimentation, we characterize and determine proximate honesty mechanisms of the facial coloration in the Princess of Burundi cichlid, Neolamprologus brichardi, a species with complex social interactions. We show that this facial color pattern evolved stable chromatic conspicuousness for efficient transmission in the aquatic environment, while context-dependent plasticity in luminance of the horizontal black stripe element is used to signal switches in aggressive intent. Importantly, using experimental signal manipulation we demonstrate that social selection by receiver retaliation is the mechanism responsible for maintaining signal honesty. We suggest that by affecti...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Cichlids
Neolamprologus brichardi
Patterns
Theoretical Model
Environment
Signal Detection (Psychology)
Disease Transmission
Species
Horizontal
Lunaria annua

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