Advertisement

Staying ahead of the game—plasticity in chorusing behavior allows males to remain attractive in different social environments

  • Daniel P. NeelonEmail author
  • Gerlinde Höbel
Original Article

Abstract

The dynamic nature of many breeding aggregations, where the composition and attractiveness of a male’s competitors are ever changing, places extreme pressure on advertising males to remain competitive. In response to this challenge, males may adjust the properties of their calls or change when they signal relative to their nearest neighbors, which are likely their strongest competitors. We used two playback experiments—one simulating a conspecific environment and the other simulating a mixed-species environment—to test the hypothesis that males use social plasticity in signal features, signal timing, or both, to remain attractive. Further, we examined whether this plasticity is mediated by selective attention, through which males change calling behavior in response to the most relevant competitors, while disregarding less relevant rivals. We find that males change some temporal call features, but rely strongly on signal timing to remain attractive relative to rivals. Simultaneous assessment of both types of calling plasticity allowed us to makes sense of counterintuitive responses of male calling behavior that would otherwise appear non-adaptive. We further show that this plasticity is most pronounced in response to attractive/conspecific males. We discuss how sexual selection by female choice may influence the trade-off between call feature and call timing plasticity, as well as how competitive interactions on a local scale may affect the overall acoustic environment in the chorus.

Significance statement

Males of group-signaling species face intense pressure to stand out from the crowd to attract mates—not only must they produce attractive signals, those signals must also be perceived clearly above the din. As signaling is a costly endeavor, it would be adaptive for males to recognize the relative attractiveness of their competitors and to adjust signaling behavior as the social environment changes. Using playback experiments, we show that male treefrogs modify call features and call timing in response to more attractive rivals. Our study also highlights that when studying chorusing species, the dual demands of producing attractive calls and placing them in attractive positions require simultaneous attention to both aspects of calling behavior. Only then is it possible to appreciate the potential trade-offs involved: males lengthening their call period when interacting with attractive rivals would appear maladaptive without the knowledge that this behavior results in reduced call overlap.

Keywords

Social plasticity Sexual selection Call timing 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank the staff of the East Texas Conservation Center, especially G. Calkins for allowing us to conduct our research and providing housing. We also thank C. Lange and K. Kosnicki for their invaluable assistance in the field, and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript.

Funding

This work was supported by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Research Growth Initiative 101X104.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All experimental procedures were approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (IACUC 07-08#38). All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the use of animals were followed.

References

  1. Audacity Version 2.0.3.0. Audacity(R) software is copyright (c) 1999-2019 Audacity Team. The name Audacity(R) is a registered trademark of Dominic MazzoniGoogle Scholar
  2. Bee MA, Perrill SA (1996) Responses to conspecific advertisement calls in the green frog (Rana clamitans) and their role in male-male communication. Behaviour 133:283–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bee MA, Perrill SA, Owen PC (2000) Male green frogs lower the pitch of acoustic signals in defense of territories: a possible dishonest signal of size? Behav Ecol 11:169–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Buck JB (1938) Synchronous rhythmic flashing of fireflies. Q Rev. Biol 13:301–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cohen J (1988) Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences, 2nd edn. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc, Hilldale, NJGoogle Scholar
  6. Conant R, Collins JT (1998) A field guide to reptiles and amphibians: eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MAGoogle Scholar
  7. Gerhardt HC (1974) The significance of some spectral features in mating call recognition in the green treefrog (Hyla cinerea). J Exp Biol 61:229–241PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Gerhardt HC (1981) Mating call recognition in the green treefrog (Hyla cinerea): importance of two frequency bands as a function of sound pressure level. J Comp Physiol 144:9–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gerhardt HC (1982) Sound pattern recognition in some north American treefrogs (Anura: Hylidae): implications for mate choice. Am Zool 22:581–595CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gerhardt HC (1987) Evolutionary and neurobiological implications of selective phonotaxis in the green treefrog, Hyla cinerea. Anim Behav 35:1479–1489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gerhardt HC, Huber F (2002) Acoustic communication in insects and anurans: common problems and diverse solutions. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  12. Gerhardt HC, Daniel RE, Perrill SA, Schramm S (1987) Mating behaviour and male mating success in the green treefrog. Anim Behav 35:1490–1503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gordon NM, Ralph MZ, Stratman KD (2017) Rapid character displacement of different call parameters in closely related treefrogs (Hyla cinerea and H. gratiosa). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 71:112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Grafe TU (1996) The function of call alternation in the African reed frog (Hyperolius marmoratius): precise call timing prevents auditory masking. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 38:149–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Grafe TU (1999) A function of synchronous chorusing and a novel female preference shift in an anuran. Proc R Soc Lond B 266:2331–2336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grafe TU (2003) Synchronized interdigitated calling in the Kuvangu running frog, Kassina kuvangensis. Anim Behav 66:127–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Greenfield MD (1993) Inhibition of male calling by heterospecific signals. Naturwissenschaften 80:570–573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Greenfield MD (1994a) Cooperation and conflict in the evolution of signal interactions. Annu Rev. Ecol Syst 25:97–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Greenfield MD (1994b) Synchronous and alternating choruses in insects and anurans: common mechanisms and diverse functions. Am Zool 34:605–615CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Greenfield MD (2015) Signal interactions and interference in insect choruses: singing and listening in the social environment. J Comp Physiol A 201:143–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Greenfield MD, Rand AS (2001) Frogs have rules: selective attention algorithms regulate chorusing in Physalaemus pustulosus (Leptodactylidae). Ethology 106:331–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Greenfield MD, Snedden WA (2003) Selective attention and the spatio-temporal structure of orthopteran choruses. Behaviour 140:1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Greenfield MD, Tourtellot MK, Snedden WA (1997) Precedence effects and the evolution of chorusing. Proc R Soc Lond B 264:1355–1361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Halliday T, Tejedo M (1995) Intrasexual selection and alternative mating behavior. In: Heatwole H, Sullivan BK (eds) Amphibian biology, vol 2. Social behaviour, Surrey Beatty, Chipping Norton, pp 419–468Google Scholar
  25. Höbel G (2000) Reproductive ecology of Hyla rosenbergi in Costa Rica. Herpetologica 56:446–454Google Scholar
  26. Höbel G (2010) Interaction between signal timing and signal feature preferences: causes and implications for sexual selection. Anim Behav 79:1257–1266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Höbel G (2011) Variation in signal timing behavior: implication for male attractiveness and sexual selection. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 65:1283–1294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Höbel G (2015) Sexual differences in responses to cross- species call interference in the green treefrog (Hyla cinerea). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 69:695–705CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Höbel G, Gerhardt HC (2003) Reproductive character displacement in the communication system of green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea). Evolution 57:894–904CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Höbel G, Gerhardt HC (2007) Sources of selection on signal timing in a tree frog. Ethology 113:973–982CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. JMP®, Version 10.1.0. SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, 1989-2019Google Scholar
  32. Klump GM, Gerhardt HC (1992) Mechanisms and function of call-timing in male-male interactions in frogs. In: McGregor P (ed) Playback and studies of animal communication. Springer, Boston, MA, pp 153–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lopez PT, Narins PM, Lewis ER, Moore SW (1988) Acoustically induced call modification in the white-lipped frog, Leptodactylus albilabris. Anim Behav 36:1295–1308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Marin-Cudraz T, Greenfield MD (2016) Finely tuned choruses: bush crickets adjust attention to neighboring singers in relation to the acoustic environment they create. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 70:1581–1589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Martinez-Rivera CC, Gerhardt HC (2008) Advertisement-call modification, male competition, and female preference in the bird-voiced treefrog Hyla avivoca. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 63:195–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Martins M (1993) Observations on the reproductive behaviour of the smith frog, Hyla faber. Herpetol J 3:31–34Google Scholar
  37. McClelland B, Wilczynski W, Ryan M (1996) Correlations between call characteristics and morphology in male cricket frogs (Acris crepitans). J Exp Biol 199:1907–1919PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Minckley PL, Greenfield MD (1995) Psychoacoustics of female phonotaxis and the evolution of male signal interactions in Orthoptera. Ethol Ecol Evol 7:235–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Narins PM (1992) Evolution of anuran chorus behavior: neural and behavioral constraints. Am Nat 139: 90-104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Neelon DP, Höbel G (2017) Social plasticity in choosiness in green tree frogs, Hyla cinerea. Behav Ecol 28:1540–1546CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Oldham RS, Gerhardt HC (1975) Behavioral isolation of the treefrogs Hyla cinerea and Hyla gratiosa. Copeia 1975:223–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Prestwich KN, Brugger KE, Topping M (1989). Energy and communication in three species of hylid frogs: power input, power output and efficiency. J Ex Biol, 144: 53-80.Google Scholar
  43. Reichert MS, Gerhardt HC (2013) Socially mediated plasticity in call timing in the gray tree frog, Hyla versicolor. Behav Ecol 24:393–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Reichert MS, Gerhardt HC (2014) Behavioral strategies and signaling in interspecific aggressive interactions in gray tree frogs. Behav Ecol 24:393–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ryan MJ, Tuttle MD, AS Rand (1982) Bat Predation and Sexual Advertisement in a Neotropical Anuran. Am Nat 119: 136-139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Schwartz JJ (1993) Male signaling behavior, female discrimination and acoustic interference in the neotropical treefrog Hyla microcephala under realistic acoustic conditions. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 32:401–414CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Snedden WA, Greenfield MD (1998) Females prefer leading males: relative signal timing and sexual selection in katydid choruses. Anim Behav 56:1091–1098CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wagner WE (1989) Fighting, assessment, and frequency alteration in Blanchard’s cricket frog. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 25:429–436CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wells KD, Taigen TL (1986) The effect of social interactions on calling energetics in the gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 19:9–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Behavioral and Molecular Ecology Group, Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Wisconsin–MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA

Personalised recommendations