DOI: 10.1007/s10144-015-0487-0

Reproductive interference via display signals: the challenge of multiple receivers

1. Department of Animal Ecology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

Correspondence to:
David Wheatcroft
Email: davidjameswheatcroft@gmail.com

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Abstract

Sexually selected traits important in both mate and competitor recognition provide an opportunity to understand the tradeoffs associated with reproductive and competitive interference. When co-occurring species compete over similar resources, selection may promote signal similarity to facilitate competitive interactions in opposition to selection for signal divergence to maintain assortative mating. Bird song provides a classic example of contrasting selection on signal design, because songs function both in mate discrimination and in territorial advertisement. Similarity in songs aids competitor recognition both within and across species, and song convergence or mixing is widespread in the songbirds. Two related mechanisms can maintain mate recognition in the face of song convergence. First, multiple recognition signals, both across and within signaling modalities, provide a basis for mate and competitor discrimination using different sets of cues. Second, stricter female song preferences may allow interspecific male–male competitive communication without compromising female mate discrimination. I suggest that increased understanding of the neurobiology underlying song recognition will provide insight into the relative importance and prevalence of these different mechanisms along a continuum of species divergence.

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