Deakin University

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Signals, signal conditions, and the direction of evolution

journal contribution
posted on 1992-01-01, 00:00 authored by John EndlerJohn Endler
Natural selection favors signals, receptors, and signaling behavior that maximize the received signals relative to background noise and minimize signal degradation. Properties of sensory systems bias the direction of evolution of the signals that they receive. Females may prefer males whose signals they can perceive more easily, and this will lead to the spread of more easily perceived male traits. Environmental conditions during signal transmission and detection also affect signal perception. Specific environmental conditions will bias the evolutionary direction of behavior, which affects the time and place of signaling as well as microhabitat preferences. Increased specialization of microhabitats and signaling behavior may lead to biased evolution of the sensory systems to work more efficiently. Thus, sensory systems, signals, signaling behavior, and habitat choice are evolutionarily coupled. These suites of traits should coevolve in predictable directions, determined by environmental biophysics, neurobiology, and the genetics of the suites of traits (hence the term "sensory drive'). -from Author



American Naturalist







Publication classification

CN.1 Other journal article

Copyright notice

1992, The American Society of Naturalists