Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



Wilkins MR, Shizuka D, Joseph MB, Hubbard JK, Safran RJ. 2015 Multimodal signalling in the North American barn swallow: a phenotype network approach. Proc. R. Soc. B 282: 20151574.

doi 10.1098/rspb.2015.1574


Copyright © 2015 Matthew R. Wilkins, Daizaburo Shizuka, Maxwell B. Joseph, Joanna K. Hubbard, and Rebecca J. Safran. Published by the Royal Society. Used by permission.


Complex signals, involving multiple components within and across modal- ities, are common in animal communication. However, decomposing complex signals into traits and their interactions remains a fundamental challenge for studies of phenotype evolution. We apply a novel phenotype network approach for studying complex signal evolution in the North American barn swallow (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster). We integrate model testing with correlation-based phenotype networks to infer the contributions of female mate choice and male–male competition to the evolution of barn swallow communication. Overall, the best predictors of mate choice were distinct from those for competition, while moderate functional overlap suggests males and females use some of the same traits to assess potential mates and rivals. We interpret model results in the context of a network of traits, and suggest this approach allows researchers a more nuanced view of trait clustering patterns that informs new hypotheses about the evolution of communication systems.

3 supplemental files attached below.

Shizuka PRSB 2015 Multimodal signalling in the North SUPPL 01.pdf (1414 kB)
Appendix S1: Additional methods and results

Shizuka PRSB 2015 Multimodal signalling in the North SUPPL 02.txt (11 kB)
Script for creating and deriving statistics from phenotype networks

Shizuka PRSB 2015 Multimodal signalling in the North SUPPL 03.csv (11 kB)