ABS 2022
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Quantifying variation in visual signals within a spider clade
Kenna D. S. Lehmann1, Rowan McGinley2, Mitch Bern3, Eileen Hebets1. 1University of Nebraska--Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, United States; 2Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, Missouri, United States; 3North Star High School, Lincoln, Nebraska, United States

One goal in the study of animal communication is to understand the selection pressures, conditions, and constraints that govern the evolution of multimodal signaling and signal complexity. To achieve this goal, we must first appropriately describe or quantify signals in several species with an understood phylogenetic relationship. Such phylogenetic comparisons have been applied to vocal communication to great success and we are at the cusp of applying this approach to multimodal signaling. Here, we use video analysis software and machine learning to quantify the visual mating signals of Schizocosa wolf spiders with the aims of i) quantifying the complexity of visual signals within each species, ii) understanding the effects of insufficient diet on mating signal effort and complexity, and iii) comparing visual signals among species. The quantification of visual signals across many Schizocosa species, when combined with work on visual ornamentation and the vibratory components and production mechanisms of mating signals, will allow us to answer questions about the evolution of complex multimodal signals in a variety of habitats and signaling conditions.