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Sexual signaling pattern correlates with habitat pattern in visually ornamented fishes

Abstract : Sexual signal design is an evolutionary puzzle that has been partially solved by the hypothesis of sensory drive. Framed in signal detection theory, sensory drive posits that the attractiveness of a signal depends on its detectability, measured as contrast with the background. Yet, cognitive scientists have shown that humans prefer images that match the spatial statistics of natural scenes. The explanation is framed in information theory, whereby attractiveness is determined by the efficiency of information processing. Here, we apply this framework to animals, using Fourier analysis to compare the spatial statistics of body patterning in ten species of darters (Etheostoma spp.) with those of their respective habitats. We find a significant correlation between the spatial statistics of darter patterns and those of their habitats for males, but not for females. Our results support a sensory drive hypothesis that recognizes efficient information processing as a driving force in signal evolution.
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Contributor : Julien Renoult <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, November 24, 2020 - 2:51:20 PM
Last modification on : Monday, November 30, 2020 - 9:52:33 AM


Hulse et al. 2020 Nat Comm - F...
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Samuel Hulse, Tamra Mendelson, Julien Renoult. Sexual signaling pattern correlates with habitat pattern in visually ornamented fishes. Nature Communications, Nature Publishing Group, 2020, ⟨10.1038/s41467-020-16389-0⟩. ⟨hal-03021793⟩



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