Graduate Fellow

How do sexual signals mediate social interactions?: social network theory and the evolution of dynamic signal traits by sexual selection

PI(s): David Zonana (University of Colorado at Boulder (Boulder,CO))
Start Date: 6-Oct-2014
End Date: 31-Oct-2014
Keywords: sexual selection, sociality, behavior, morphology, meta-analysis

Across disparate taxa, elaborate sexual traits are used in a variety of contexts, including competition and mate choice. Sexual selection is the consequence of social transactions among males and females within a social environment, and thus these transactions are likely to play a critical role in explaining the evolution of sexual signals and their links to performance and individual quality. Yet, sexual selection and the social transactions that make up emergent social environments or networks are often analyzed separately. An integrated framework for understanding the relationship between the social environment and signal-driven performance would provide insight into how individual and population-level variation in signal phenotypes and sociality is developed and maintained. The aims of my proposal are two-fold: first, to conduct a conceptual synthesis – spanning the disparate fields of evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology, behavioral endocrinology, and social network theory – to construct a framework for investigating signal-behavior links across taxa; and second, I will aggregate and analyze existing animal social network data to test various hypotheses about the relationships between sexual signals and social interactions.