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Social environment determines degree of chemical signalling

Title data

Steiger, Sandra ; Haberer, Wolf ; Müller, Josef K.:
Social environment determines degree of chemical signalling.
In: Biology Letters. Vol. 7 (2011) Issue 6 . - pp. 822-824.
ISSN 1744-957X
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2011.0457

Abstract in another language

Few studies have attempted to distinguish between cues and signals in the context of chemical communication. A number of chemical substances have been shown to vary with physiological state, such as stage of oestrus cycle, fertility, dominance status or nutritional condition, but little is known about whether this variation is incidental or adaptive. Here, we provide evidence of a substance whose emission varies with breeding state, but is not merely an incidental by-product of physiological state, but rather, an evolved signal. Breeding females of the facultative biparental burying beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides, release methyl geranate, a substance that helps males to identify breeding status and to distinguish between their female partners and non-breeding intruders. We demonstrate that females respond flexibly to their social environment and emit high amounts of methyl geranate only in the presence of a male partner, i.e. a receiver. In contrast, cuticular hydrocarbons, which also have been shown to change with breeding status, are not modulated and do not differ between single and paired breeding females. Receiver-dependent chemical signalling is expected to evolve when costs are involved in the production or transmission of the signal; such signal modulation might be more common than previously thought.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Additional notes: BAYCEER147340
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Chair Animal Ecology II - Evolutionary Animal Ecology > Chair Animal Ecology II - Evolutionary Animal Ecology - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sandra Steiger
Research Institutions
Research Institutions > Research Centres
Research Institutions > Research Centres > Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research- BayCEER
Result of work at the UBT: No
DDC Subjects: 500 Science
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2019 07:54
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2019 07:54
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/48388