Editor's evaluation: Parasite defensive limb movements enhance acoustic signal attraction in male little torrent frogs [peer_review]

Ammie K Kalan
2022 unpublished
Many animals rely on complex signals that target multiple senses to attract mates and repel rivals. These multimodal displays can however also attract unintended receivers, which can be an important driver of signal complexity. Despite being taxonomically widespread, we often lack insight into how multimodal signals evolve from unimodal signals and in particular what roles unintended eavesdroppers play. Here, we assess whether the physical movements of parasite defense behavior increase the
more » ... lexity and attractiveness of an acoustic sexual signal in the little torrent frog (Amolops torrentis). Calling males of this species often display limb movements in order to defend against blood-sucking parasites such as frog-biting midges that eavesdrop on their acoustic signal. Through mate choice tests we show that some of these midge-evoked movements influence female preference for acoustic signals. Our data suggest that midge-induced movements may be incorporated into a sexual display, targeting both hearing and vision in the intended receiver. Females may play an important role in incorporating these multiple components because they prefer signals which combine multiple modalities. Our results thus help to understand the relationship between natural and sexual selection pressure operating on signalers and how in turn this may influence multimodal signal evolution. Editor's evaluation Zhao et al., present an intriguing proposal for the evolution of complex multimodal signals based on the analysis of both acoustic and visual signals of small torrent frogs' mating displays. Combining field observations with experiments, they suggest that male limb movements, which are used to swat away blood-sucking midges, have become attractive to female frogs, demonstrating how these movements enhance the mating calls of males. Their research suggests a potential pathway for hirtyle-host interactions to become co-opted into sexually selected mating displays.
doi:10.7554/elife.76083.sa0 fatcat:xli6flovdbgkda3yqsnk6lcmvm