In many species, male animals produce costly signals to attract females. Intersexual indicator theories propose that these signals are indicative of male quality, whereas individual recognition models are based on the idea that male signals are used primarily to allow for individual discrimination. These two types of models make differing predictions about the nature of male signals. In particular, these models’ predictions differ in the information about a male’s quality that will be included in his signal, the frequency distributions of male signals in a population, and the ways in which the different traits that make up a signal will covary. Calls from the Australian frog Litoria chloris were tested for consistency with the predictions of intersexual indicator models and individual recognition models. The calls were found to contain minimal information on male quality, and the covariance between different signal traits was consistent with the individual recognition models. However, the frequency distributions of male signal traits agreed with intersexual indicator models. In addition, this study found evidence that the information content of calls may instead mediate intrasexual interactions, although more research is required to determine if this is the case.
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Vol. 60 • No. 2