Professor Marty Leonard (Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Canada)
Animal signals are amazingly diverse in both their form and function. Peacocks spread their tails to tell females about their quality as a mate, red deer roar to tell rivals about their strength, and young cuckoos gape and call to tell host parents about their need for food. Why would selection favour such an apparently cumbersome and costly trait as the peacock’s tail? Do red deer bluff about their strength? How are host parents manipulated into providing food? These questions raise fundamental issues about the evolution of animal signals.