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Female mate choice can drive the evolution of high frequency echolocation in bats: a case study with Rhinolophus mehelyi.

Puechmaille SJ, Borissov IM, Zsebok S, Allegrini B, Hizem M, Kuenzel S, Schuchmann M, Teeling EC, Siemers BM - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: Natural selection favours signals, receptors, and signalling behaviour that optimise the received signal relative to background noise.Sexual selection through mate choice can strongly modify the effects of natural selection on signalling systems ultimately causing maladaptive signals to evolve.Our data refute the sole role of ecology in the evolution of echolocation and highlight the antagonistic interplay between natural and sexual selection in shaping acoustic signals.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Sensory Ecology Group, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen, Germany; School of Biology & Environmental Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin, Ireland; Tabachka Bat Research Station, Tabachka, Bulgaria.

ABSTRACT
Animals employ an array of signals (i.e. visual, acoustic, olfactory) for communication. Natural selection favours signals, receptors, and signalling behaviour that optimise the received signal relative to background noise. When the signal is used for more than one function, antagonisms amongst the different signalling functions may constrain the optimisation of the signal for any one function. Sexual selection through mate choice can strongly modify the effects of natural selection on signalling systems ultimately causing maladaptive signals to evolve. Echolocating bats represent a fascinating group in which to study the evolution of signalling systems as unlike bird songs or frog calls, echolocation has a dual role in foraging and communication. The function of bat echolocation is to generate echoes that the calling bat uses for orientation and food detection with call characteristics being directly related to the exploitation of particular ecological niches. Therefore, it is commonly assumed that echolocation has been shaped by ecology via natural selection. Here we demonstrate for the first time using a novel combined behavioural, ecological and genetic approach that in a bat species, Rhinolophus mehelyi: (1) echolocation peak frequency is an honest signal of body size; (2) females preferentially select males with high frequency calls during the mating season; (3) high frequency males sire more off-spring, providing evidence that echolocation calls may play a role in female mate choice. Our data refute the sole role of ecology in the evolution of echolocation and highlight the antagonistic interplay between natural and sexual selection in shaping acoustic signals.

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Experimental set-up for the mate choice experiment.Examples of spectrograms of low and high frequency echolocation calls played back are presented at the bottom of the figure.
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pone-0103452-g001: Experimental set-up for the mate choice experiment.Examples of spectrograms of low and high frequency echolocation calls played back are presented at the bottom of the figure.

Mentions: As bats are mostly active at low light levels where visual signals are difficult to perceive, other communication channels such as acoustic signals should play a large role in their mating systems [19]. Here we investigated whether cues contained in echolocation calls were used in a mate choice context by female Rhinolophus mehelyi (Mehely’s horseshoe bat), and found behavioural and genetic evidence that sexual selection may play a role in the evolution of echolocation calls. Rhinolophus mehelyi is an ideal species to investigate the role of sexual selection in the evolution of echolocation. Across the speciose Rhinolophidae family (n = 77) there is a negative correlation between echolocation peak frequency and size [20]. This allometric relationship is attributed to the physics of sound production, with larger bats having thicker vocal cords and/or larger resonance chambers and therefore, emitting lower frequencies [20]. However, R. mehelyi deviates from its congeners by having a peak frequency ca. 30 kHz higher than expected given its size (from the eqn. in Figure 1 in Ref. [20]). Here we investigated if this deviation from the echolocation/size norm may result from sexual selection.


Female mate choice can drive the evolution of high frequency echolocation in bats: a case study with Rhinolophus mehelyi.

Puechmaille SJ, Borissov IM, Zsebok S, Allegrini B, Hizem M, Kuenzel S, Schuchmann M, Teeling EC, Siemers BM - PLoS ONE (2014)

Experimental set-up for the mate choice experiment.Examples of spectrograms of low and high frequency echolocation calls played back are presented at the bottom of the figure.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4116191&req=5

pone-0103452-g001: Experimental set-up for the mate choice experiment.Examples of spectrograms of low and high frequency echolocation calls played back are presented at the bottom of the figure.
Mentions: As bats are mostly active at low light levels where visual signals are difficult to perceive, other communication channels such as acoustic signals should play a large role in their mating systems [19]. Here we investigated whether cues contained in echolocation calls were used in a mate choice context by female Rhinolophus mehelyi (Mehely’s horseshoe bat), and found behavioural and genetic evidence that sexual selection may play a role in the evolution of echolocation calls. Rhinolophus mehelyi is an ideal species to investigate the role of sexual selection in the evolution of echolocation. Across the speciose Rhinolophidae family (n = 77) there is a negative correlation between echolocation peak frequency and size [20]. This allometric relationship is attributed to the physics of sound production, with larger bats having thicker vocal cords and/or larger resonance chambers and therefore, emitting lower frequencies [20]. However, R. mehelyi deviates from its congeners by having a peak frequency ca. 30 kHz higher than expected given its size (from the eqn. in Figure 1 in Ref. [20]). Here we investigated if this deviation from the echolocation/size norm may result from sexual selection.

Bottom Line: Natural selection favours signals, receptors, and signalling behaviour that optimise the received signal relative to background noise.Sexual selection through mate choice can strongly modify the effects of natural selection on signalling systems ultimately causing maladaptive signals to evolve.Our data refute the sole role of ecology in the evolution of echolocation and highlight the antagonistic interplay between natural and sexual selection in shaping acoustic signals.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Sensory Ecology Group, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen, Germany; School of Biology & Environmental Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin, Ireland; Tabachka Bat Research Station, Tabachka, Bulgaria.

ABSTRACT
Animals employ an array of signals (i.e. visual, acoustic, olfactory) for communication. Natural selection favours signals, receptors, and signalling behaviour that optimise the received signal relative to background noise. When the signal is used for more than one function, antagonisms amongst the different signalling functions may constrain the optimisation of the signal for any one function. Sexual selection through mate choice can strongly modify the effects of natural selection on signalling systems ultimately causing maladaptive signals to evolve. Echolocating bats represent a fascinating group in which to study the evolution of signalling systems as unlike bird songs or frog calls, echolocation has a dual role in foraging and communication. The function of bat echolocation is to generate echoes that the calling bat uses for orientation and food detection with call characteristics being directly related to the exploitation of particular ecological niches. Therefore, it is commonly assumed that echolocation has been shaped by ecology via natural selection. Here we demonstrate for the first time using a novel combined behavioural, ecological and genetic approach that in a bat species, Rhinolophus mehelyi: (1) echolocation peak frequency is an honest signal of body size; (2) females preferentially select males with high frequency calls during the mating season; (3) high frequency males sire more off-spring, providing evidence that echolocation calls may play a role in female mate choice. Our data refute the sole role of ecology in the evolution of echolocation and highlight the antagonistic interplay between natural and sexual selection in shaping acoustic signals.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus