Movement signal choreography unaffected by receiver distance in the Australian Jacky lizard, Amphibolurus muricatus
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Theory explains the structure of animal signals in the context of the receiver sensory systems, the environment through which signals travel and their information content. The influence of signalling context on movement-based signalling strategies is becoming clearer. Building upon recent findings that demonstrated changing environmental plant motion conditions resulted in a change of signalling strategy by the Australian lizard Amphibolurus muricatus, we examined whether receiver distance also influences signalling strategies. We found that signalling lizards did not modify their introductory tail flicking in response to distant viewers in the absence of competing, irrelevant plant image motion despite significant reductions in signal structure at the eye of the viewer. The magnitude of resultant effect sizes strongly suggests that receiver distance does not contribute to signalling strategies as much as the presence of motion noise in the environment.
KeywordsAmphibolurus muricatus Jacky lizard Movement-based signal Receiver distance Signal evolution Signal structure
Thanks to Elizabeth Allen and Don Sinclair for hosting us during animal collection and Robin and Steven Teding van Berkout for onsite support during the experiment. Thanks also to Tobias Merkle, Jochen Zeil and two anonymous referees for comments on an earlier draft, as well as the Neuroethology group at The Australian National University for constructive feedback. The Australian National University’s Animal Experimentation Ethics Committee and the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service approved all housing and experimental procedures. This work was funded by the Australian Research Council (DP0557018) and was hosted by the Edith and Joy London Foundation, Kioloa, NSW, Australia.
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