Environmental motion delays the detection of movement-based signals Academic Article uri icon


  • Animal signals are constrained by the environment in which they are transmitted and the sensory systems of receivers. Detection of movement-based signals is particularly challenging against the background of wind-blown plants. The Australian lizard Amphibolurus muricatus has recently been shown to compensate for greater plant motion by prolonging the introductory tail-flicking component of its movement-based display. Here I demonstrate that such modifications to signal structure are useful because environmental motion lengthens the time lizard receivers take to detect tail flicks. The spatio-temporal properties of animal signals and environmental motion are thus sufficiently similar to make signal detection more difficult. Environmental motion, therefore, must have had an influence on the evolution of movement-based signals and motion detection mechanisms.

publication date

  • February 23, 2008