Urbanisation is rapidly changing the environment on a global scale providing both challenges and opportunities for many species. Communication with sexual signals is an important life-history component of many animals and one of the key traits that is likely to be affected when species choose for a life in the city. My PhD project focusses on how communication systems and associated traits evolve in response to urban sensory conditions (such as traffic noise and artificial light). How do urban and rural individuals within a species differ in their communication? Is this variation plastic and/or genetically fixed, and what are their evolutionary consequences? To find answers these questions I will conduct experiments with túngara frogs in Panama.
Previously I have worked on variation in information use in birds of different personality types, and on the effects of environmental conditions on signalling in frogs of different body sizes.
Halfwerk, W., Smit, J.A.H., Loning, H., Lea, A.M., Geipel, I., Ellers, J., & Ryan, M.J. (2017). Environmental conditions limit attractiveness of a complex sexual signal in the túngara frog. Nature Communications, 8(1), 1891. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-02067-1
Smit, J.A.H., & van Oers, K. (2019). Personality types vary in their personal and social information use. Animal Behaviour, 151, 185–193. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2019.02.002
Smit, J.A.H., Loning, H., Ryan, M.J., & Halfwerk, W. (2019). Environmental constraints on size-dependent signaling affects mating and rival interactions. Behavioral Ecology, 30(3), 724–732. https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arz009