Perceptual bias does not explain preference for prey call adornment in the frog-eating bat
- 275 Downloads
Eavesdropping predators sometimes show preferences for certain prey signal variants, yet the ultimate and proximate reasons for such preferences are often unclear. The fringe-lipped bat, Trachops cirrhosus, eavesdrops on the advertisement calls of male túngara frogs, Physalaemus pustulosus, and shows a marked preference for complex (adorned) calls over simple (non-adorned) calls. We hypothesized that this preference stems from perceptual biases in the sensory and/or cognitive systems of T. cirrhosus. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a series of preference experiments in which we presented bats with various modified simple calls, each altered to possess one of the acoustic properties that distinguish complex calls from simple calls. We reasoned that if perceptual bias accounts for the bat’s preference for complex calls, then a novel stimulus with similar acoustic properties to the complex call should be attractive as well (i.e., the preference should be permissive). Except for weak evidence suggesting that the longer duration of complex calls could contribute to their greater attractiveness to T. cirrhosus, we did not find any indication that perceptual biases account for this eavesdropper preference. Instead, we suggest that T. cirrhosus developed their preference for call complexity because eavesdropping on complex calls provides greater fitness benefits than eavesdropping on simple calls, for example, because eavesdropping on complex calls may increase probability of prey capture and/or lead to more profitable food patches.
KeywordsEavesdropping Perceptual bias Receiver bias Prey detection Predator-prey interaction Fringe-lipped bat Túngara frog
The authors would like to thank the government of the Republic of Panamá for their permission to work in Gamboa and Soberanía National Park and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute for providing critical logistical support and infrastructure. Sara Troxell, Sean Griffin, Martha Moscoso, and Patricia Jones helped with capturing and caring for bats. The authors are also grateful to Michael J. Ryan for supplying the túngara frog recordings and to Ximena Bernal, Patricia Jones, Michael Caldwell, Michael J. Ryan, Christian Voigt, Gloriana Chaverri, and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on previous versions of the manuscript. This study was supported by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the Fonds de Recherche du Québec-Nature et Technologies, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Vanier Canada Graduate Fellowship Program.
The authors declare that the experiments conducted in this research comply with the current laws in the Republic of Panamá. All work was approved by the Panamanian Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente (ANAM permits: SEA-95-10 and SEA-46-11) and the Smithsonian Institution (IACUC permit: 20100816-1012-16).
- Andersson M (1994) Sexual selection. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
- Campbell JA (1999) Distributional patterns of amphibians in Middle America. In: Duellman WE (ed) Patterns of distribution of amphibians: a global perspective. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, pp 111–210Google Scholar
- Endler JA (1986) Natural selection in the wild. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
- Ibáñez R, Rand AS, Jaramillo C (1999) Los anfibios del monumento natural barro colorado, parque nacional soberanía y áreas adyacentes. The amphibians of barro Colorado nature monument, soberanía national park and adjacent areas. Editorial Mizrachi and Pujol, PanamáGoogle Scholar
- Page RA, Ryan MJ, Bernal XE (2014) Be loved, be prey, be eaten. In: Yasukawa K (ed) Animal behavior, vol 3, Case studies: integration and application of animal behavior. Praeger, New York, pp 123–154Google Scholar
- Ryan MJ (1985) The túngara frog, a study in sexual selection and communication. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
- Ryan MJ, Bernal XE, Rand AS (2010) Female mate choice and the potential for ornament evolution in the túngara frog Physalaemus pustulosus. Curr Zool 56:343–357Google Scholar
- Siemers BM (2001) Finding prey by associative learning in gleaning bats: experiments with Natterer’s bat Myotis nattereri. Acta Chiropterol 3:211–215Google Scholar
- Stephens DW, Krebs JR (1986) Foraging theory. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar