, Volume 181, Issue 3, pp 673–681 | Cite as

Intraspecific scaling in frog calls: the interplay of temperature, body size and metabolic condition

  • Lucia ZieglerEmail author
  • Matías Arim
  • Francisco Bozinovic
Highlighted Student Research


Understanding physiological and environmental determinants of strategies of reproductive allocation is a pivotal aim in biology. Because of their high metabolic cost, properties of sexual acoustic signals may correlate with body size, temperature, and an individual’s energetic state. A quantitative theory of acoustic communication, based on the metabolic scaling with temperature and mass, was recently proposed, adding to the well-reported empirical patterns. It provides quantitative predictions for frequencies, call rate, and durations. Here, we analysed the mass, temperature, and body condition scaling of spectral and temporal attributes of the advertisement call of the treefrog Hypsiboas pulchellus. Mass dependence of call frequency followed metabolic expectations (f~M −0.25, where f is frequency and M is mass) although non-metabolic allometry could also account for the observed pattern. Temporal variables scaled inversely with mass contradicting metabolic expectations (d~M 0.25, where d is duration), supporting instead empirical patterns reported to date. Temperature was positively associated with call rate and negatively with temporal variables, which is congruent with metabolic predictions. We found no significant association between temperature and frequencies, adding to the bulk of empirical evidence. Finally, a result of particular relevance was that body condition consistently determined call characteristics, in interaction with temperature or mass. Our intraspecific study highlights that even if proximate determinants of call variability are rather well understood, the mechanisms through which they operate are proving to be more complex than previously thought. The determinants of call characteristics emerge as a key topic of research in behavioural and physiological biology, with several clear points under debate which need to be analysed on theoretical and empirical grounds.


Acoustic communication Anuran Body condition Metabolic ecology Scaling 



The authors would like to express their gratitude to Gabriel Laufer and Indigena Private Wildlife Reserve for allowing this study on their land, and for lending their facilities during fieldwork. Laura Montes de Oca lent her car and gave assistance during field trips, and Mauro Berazategui helped us during fieldwork. The contributions by three anonymous reviewers helped to substantially improve this manuscript. This work was funded by Agencia Nacional de Investigación e Innovación of Uruguay through a studentship to L. Z. (BE_POS_2010_2502), and received support from PEDECIBA Biología (L. Z.; Doctoral Programme, Uruguay). M. A. was funded by a Fondo Clemente Estable grant (FCE_2_2011_1_7117).

Author contribution statement

L. Z., M. A. and F. B. formulated the original idea; M. A. and L. Z. developed the methodology; L. Z. conducted the fieldwork; M. A. and L. Z. performed the statistical analyses; L. Z., M. A. and F. B. wrote the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. All applicable institutional and/or national guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Supplementary material

442_2015_3499_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (14 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 14 kb)
442_2015_3499_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (190 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 190 kb)
442_2015_3499_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (98 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 97 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucia Ziegler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matías Arim
    • 1
    • 2
  • Francisco Bozinovic
    • 3
  1. 1.PDU Biodiversidad, Centro Universitario Regional Este (CURE), MaldonadoUniversidad de la RepúblicaMontevideoUruguay
  2. 2.Departamento de Ecología y Evolución, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de la República UruguayMontevideoUruguay
  3. 3.Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Center of Applied Ecology and SustainabilityPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile

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