Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 429–436

Fighting, assessment, and frequency alteration in Blanchard's cricket frog

  • William E. WagnerJr.

DOI: 10.1007/BF00300189

Cite this article as:
Wagner, W.E. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1989) 25: 429. doi:10.1007/BF00300189


This study examines the use of dominant frequency for assessment of fighting ability in Blanchard's cricket frog Acris crepitans blanchardi. Like most anurans, the dominant frequency of the call is negatively correlated with size. However, unlike many anurans, dominant frequency varies within individual males, providing a less reliable signal of size. Wrestling contests between male cricket frogs were differentially won by larger males. I thus tested the hypothesis that males use dominant frequency for assessment of an opponent's fighting ability. Males retreated from, or became satellites of, broadcasts of synthetic low frequency calls, simulating the calls of a large male. In contrast, males attacked broadcasts of synthetic high frequency calls, simulating the calls of a small male. The dominant frequency of the call therefore appears to contain information about size which males use to assess the fighting ability of opponents, despite the lower degree of reliability resulting from individual variation in the signal. Individual variation in dominant frequency arises partially as a consequence of active alteration of the signal in response to social competition. Males differentially lowered their dominant frequencies in response to lower frequency broadcasts, thus in response to larger opponents. Furthermore, the higher a male's dominant frequency relative to that of an opponent, the greater was the decrease in dominant frequency. These results suggest that smaller males may conditionally lower their dominant frequencies in order to sound larger to larger opponents, thereby inflating their apparent fighting ability. Two alternative hypotheses are discussed.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • William E. WagnerJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of TexasAustinUSA

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