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By Kristen Snowden, Biological Sciences and Environmental Studies
Advisor: Nathan Morehouse
Awards: Capstone Competition: Competitor
Presentation ID: 129
Abstract: Biodiversity conservation is critical in the face of increasing Anthropocene extinction rates. Speciation through local adaptation is a central tenet of sensory drive, which predicts that animal signals and sensory system efficacy are impacted by environmental context and should therefore adapt to maximize efficiency when faced with environmental noise. One of the most critical life history considerations for species survival is the ability to procreate. Therefore, sexually reproducing species have often evolved elaborate courtship procedures to ensure reproductive success. Courtship displays are often evolved under a sensory drive process, and organisms practicing mate choice are especially likely to speciate. The environmental noise places high selective pressure on sensory systems and signals, specifically ones used to locate sexual partners. The massive change to environments and habitats due to climate change can have a devastating impact on the sensory landscapes of species. In order to combat this issue, proper characterization of sensory landscapes and how organisms accommodate environmental shifts must be investigated. Habronattus jumping spiders would be the ideal model species to examine these questions and concerns. Habronattus jumping spiders are highly diverse, and found in a myriad of different environments. They also have highly developed visual systems, and have elaborate male mating displays. While collecting male spiders for a related experiment, we also collected habitat videos for numerous Habronattus species habitats in order to quantify environmental noise. We explore novel motion visualization techniques and use non-parametric circular statistical approaches to determine whether habitats are significantly different.