Papers in the Biological Sciences


Document Type


Date of this Version

January 2006


Published in The Journal of Experimental Biology 209, 1074-1084. Copyright © Company of Biologists. Used by permission.


Animal signals can consist of multiple parts within or across sensory modalities (multi-component signals or multimodal signals). While recent work has focused on multimodal signals, the production, processing and evolution of multi-component signals has received considerably less attention. Here, using synchronous high-speed video and laser vibrometer recordings followed by experimental manipulations of putative sound-producing structures, we explored the mechanisms of seismic signal production in the courtship display of Schizocosa stridulans Stratton. Two types of seismic courtship signals were observed: ‘rev’ and ‘idle’ signals. Revs consist of a high-frequency component produced by flexions of the male pedipalp (stridulation) simultaneous with a low frequency component produced by movements of the abdomen (tremulation). This multi-component signal is produced by independent structures and represents a parallel multi-component display. By contrast, idle displays consist of a high-intensity component produced by drumming of the forelegs on the substrate (percussion) followed by a high-frequency component produced by flexions of the male pedipalp (stridulation). While the components of the idle display are also produced by independent structures, the leg drumming and palp flexions occur serially and do not overlap in time. We discuss the selective pressures that may drive the evolution of multiple sound-producing structures as well as the selective pressures that drive the evolution of parallel versus serial multi-component signals.