Some of the most spectacular and diverse traits in animals are the signals used to attract mates. Closely related species often differ dramatically in signaling traits, in spite of similarity in other morphological traits. The idea that reproductive isolation arises when male mating signals and female preferences differ among populations is an old one. However, until recently, there was almost no information on what generates diversity in mating signals and preferences. This is beginning to change, with emerging results that highlight the importance of habitat differences in generating this diversity. Such differences in ecology are at the root of one hypothesis for divergence in sexual signaling - sensory drive. The sensory drive hypothesis focuses on how communication systems adapt to local environments and predicts that divergence in communication systems will occur when environments differ. Reproductive isolation can arise as a byproduct of this adaptive divergence in behavior.
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