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Participants: Prof. John A. Endler (PI); Prof. Bill Buttemer; Dr. Weimin Gao (at ITRI)
Aims and background: An important assumption in the sexual selection literature, and the animal communication literature, is that signals are costly, and that limits their use and evolutionary development. In spite of this widespread assumption, costs have never been investigated. Male guppies (Poecilia reticulata) do a very rapid courtship display.
The aim of this project is to use high speed (2000 frames/second) video recordings to (1) describe the 3D motion of the body and fins during the sigmoid displays; (2) calculate the volume of water moved by the male during the display; (3) calculate the energy required to move that water and the body in this very rapid complex display. (4) relate energy expended to mating success and compare this to the energetics of 'sneaky' mating.
Scientific significance and innovation: The cost of displays is a central assumption in the theory of animal communication and is thought to be required for signal honesty, yet this has never been tested directly. This will be the first serious test of this hypothesis.
Potential national benefit and strategic alignment with the aims of the CIE: This will advance our fundamental understanding of the evolution of animal communication and both animal signal structure and function. It combines behavioural ecology, evolutionary biology, biophysics/biomechanics, and animal physiology. The putative integrative nature of this project is central to the aims of the CIE