|Robots, burlap, and LiDAR: environmental influences on courtship and social information flow on the lek.|
|Ryane M. Logsdon1, Anna C. Perry1, Alan H. Krakauer1, Jennifer S. Forbey2, Gail L. Patricelli1. 1University of California, Davis, Davis, CA, United States; 2Boise State University, Boise, ID, United States
An animal’s habitat – specifically, the social and physical attributes of its environment – can influence the expression of courtship displays and reproductive success, as well as the flow of information among individuals. These habitat characteristics often differ across both temporal and spatial scales, however, the relationships between this environmental variation, display behaviors, and information flow are rarely studied. We conducted a series of experiments to examine the influences of the social and physical environment on the flow of social information and tactical adjustment of sexual displays in a lekking species: the greater sage-grouse. Utilizing biomimetic robots, acoustic playbacks, habitat manipulations, and fine-scale remote sensing with terrestrial LiDAR, we are able to quantify and manipulate the social and physical environment to investigate changes in courtship behavior and social information flow across the lek. Here, we introduce our multi-faceted approach to investigating environmental influences on the display behavior and reproductive success of a free-living species.