Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 9–18

The effect of social interactions on calling energetics in the gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor)

  • Kentwood D. Wells
  • Theodore L. Taigen


The vocal behavior of Hyla versicolor was studied in the field by means of behavioral observations and playback experiments, and these data were coupled with measurements of oxygen consumption in calling frogs to estimate the effect of social interactions on calling energetics. Male gray treefrogs have intense calls (median peak SPL=109 dB, fast RMS SPL=100 dB at 50 cm). At an air temperature of 23° C, males produced an average of 1,200–1,300 calls/h for 2–4 h per night. Calling rates and call durations differed among individuals, but were relatively constant for each male during periods of sustained calling. Males in dense choruses gave calls about twice as long as isolated males, but produced calls at about half the rate. Consequently, total calling effort and estimated aerobic costs were largely independent of chorus density. Playbacks of recorded calls to males in the field elicited increases in call duration and decreases in calling rate, regardless of the rate or duration of the stimulus. Males gave longer calls in response to long calls or to stimuli presented at high rates, but they did not precisely match either stimulus rate or duration. Calling effort and estimated oxygen consumption changed only slightly during stimulus playbacks. These results indicate that male-male competition elicits pro-found changes in the vocal behavior of calling males, but these changes have little effect on energy expenditure. We estimated that most calling males had metabolic rates of about 1.7–1.8 ml O2/(g\h), or about 280 J/h for an average size (8.6 g) male at 20° C. Although changes in call duration and calling rate did not affect aerobic costs of calling, males producing long calls at slow rates called for fewer hours per night than males producing shorter calls at higher rates. This suggests that calling time may be limited by the rate at which muscle glycogen reserves are depleted.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kentwood D. Wells
    • 1
  • Theodore L. Taigen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, U-43The University of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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