Evolutionary divergence in acoustic signals: causes and consequences

cover photo by Dr. Jeff Mitton


Acoustic signals mediate mate choice, resource defense, and species recognition in a broad range of taxa. It has been proposed, therefore, that divergence in acoustic signals plays a key role in speciation. Nonetheless, the processes driving divergence of acoustic traits and their consequences in terms of speciation are poorly understood. A review of empirical and comparative studies reveals strong support for a role of sexual selection in acoustic divergence, but the possible concomitant influences of ecological context are rarely examined. We summarize a conceptual framework for testing the relative significance of both adaptive and neutral mechanisms leading to acoustic divergence, predictions for cases where these processes lead to speciation, and how their relative importance plays out over evolutionary time.

Trends in Ecology & Evolution

This was the first chapter of my dissertation and the first time I was lead author on a scientific paper. I spent about 2 years doing the literature review, synthesis, and revision of the paper. It has by far had the greatest impact (in terms of citations) of any of my published research.