Abstracts (first author)
Evolution of acoustic and visual signals in Asian barbets
The study of animal communication systems is an important step towards gaining greater understanding of the processes influencing diversification because signals often play an important role in mate choice and can lead to reproductive isolation. Signal evolution can be influenced by a diversity of factors such as biophysical constraints on the emitter, the signalling environment, or selection to avoid heterospecific matings. Furthermore, because signals can be costly to produce, trade-offs may exist between different types of signals. Here, we apply phylogenetic comparative analyses to study the evolution of acoustic and visual signals in Asian barbets, a clade of non-Passerine, forest-dependent birds. Our results suggest that evolution of acoustic and visual signals in barbets is influenced by diverse factors, such as morphology and signalling environment, suggesting a potential effect of sensory drive. We found no trade-offs between visual and acoustic signals. Quite to the contrary, more colourful species sing significantly longer songs. Song characteristics presented distinct patterns of evolution. Song frequency diverged early on and the rate of evolution of this trait appears to be constrained by body size. On the other hand, characteristics associated with length of the song presented evidence for more recent divergence. Finally, our results indicate that there is a spatial component to the evolution of visual signals, and that visual signals are more divergent between closely related taxa than acoustic signals. Hence, visual signals in these species could play a role in speciation or reinforcement of reproductive isolation following secondary contacts.