Editors' ChoiceANIMAL COMMUNICATION

Flexible geckos

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Science  02 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6341, pp. 919
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6341.919-a

Tokay geckos alter their calls to be better heard in noisy environments.

PHOTO: REINHARD DIRSCHERL/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

In noisy environments, mammals (including humans) and birds alter the amplitude of their calls, a phenomenon termed the Lombard effect. Brumm and Zollinger tested whether such an effect also occurs in reptiles—specifically, the noisy tokay gecko (Gekko gecko). They found no evidence of amplitude alteration, consistent with its absence in other herpetiles. However, they did find that the lizards modulated their calls to be better heard. The lizards both increased the length of each call type and varied the percentages of call types made, with calling in noisy environments including more loud “geck-o” calls. These results suggest that reptile call flexibility may be higher than thought and suggests that the Lombard effect evolved independently in the bird and mammal lineages.

Proc. R. Soc. B 10.1098/rspb.2017.0451 (2017).

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