Signal variation and call preferences for whine frequency in the túngara frog, Physalaemus pustulosus
- Cite this article as:
- Bosch, J., Rand, A. & Ryan, M. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2000) 49: 62. doi:10.1007/s002650000280
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Properties of sexual signals can differ in the amount of within-male variability. In several species of anurans, females exert stabilizing or weakly directional preferences on less variable call properties, and highly directional preferences on more variable ones. Preferences of female túngara frogs, Physalaemus pustulosus, were examined for two call characteristics: a less variable spectral character, dominant frequency of the whine, and a more variable temporal character, inter-call interval. Eight phonotaxis experiments using synthetic calls were conducted with gravid females. Stimuli presented for both characters were based on the mean and standard deviation (SD) of those characters in the study population. For each character, we used four intervals of variation (1, 2, 3, and 4 SD) between stimuli in four different experiments. As has been found in some other anuran species, preference was stronger for the more variable temporal character, increasing in proportion to the difference between stimuli. Preference for the less variable spectral character was not significant until the difference between stimuli was substantial. The strength of female preference, estimated as latency to choose, the number of speakers visited, and the number of females showing phonotaxis, increased in proportion to the increase in the difference between stimuli. All these measures of strength of preference were greater in response to the more variable temporal character compared to responses to the less variable spectral character.