Motion Signalling & Predators

Models of signal evolution predict that the threat posed by eavesdropping predators will influence the evolution of signal structure and moment-to-moment variation in signaling behaviour. We are exploring this in the context of motion signaling using the jacky dragon (Amphibolurus muricatus) as a signaling species and the laughing kookaburra (Daecelo novaeguineae) as the model predator. In captive studies we are simulating predator-rich and predator-poor environments, and the acute effects of predator presence, to see whether signal structure varies. To achieve these goals we utilize models of flying birds and taxidermic prepared kookaburras with radio-controlled servos to enable predator movement.

Figure | (a) Kookaburra model used to fly over captive lizard enclosures at regular intervals (squares in adjacent panel) prior to exposure to intruder. (b) Taxidermic kookaburra with radio controlled servos to enable head movement on command.