Even simple biological signals vary in several measurable dimensions. Understanding their evolution requires, therefore, a multivariate understanding of selection, including how different properties interact to determine the effectiveness of the signal. We combined experimental manipulation with multivariate selection analysis to assess female mate choice on the simple trilled calls of male gray treefrogs. We independently and randomly varied five behaviorally relevant acoustic properties in 154 synthetic calls. We compared response times of each of 154 females to one of these calls with its response to a standard call that had mean values of the five properties. We found directional and quadratic selection on two properties indicative of the amount of signaling, pulse number, and call rate. Canonical rotation of the fitness surface showed that these properties, along with pulse rate, contributed heavily to a major axis of stabilizing selection, a result consistent with univariate studies showing diminishing effects of increasing pulse number well beyond the mean. Spectral properties contributed to a second major axis of stabilizing selection. The single major axis of disruptive selection suggested that a combination of two temporal and two spectral properties with values differing from the mean should be especially attractive.
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Vol. 63 • No. 10