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The role of synchronized calling, ambient light, and ambient noise, in anti-bat-predator behavior of a treefrog


Male treefrogs, Smilisca sila (Hylidae), produce calls of varying complexity and demonstrate a remarkable ability to synchronize their calls with those of neighbors. The bat Trachops cirrhosus eats frogs and uses the frogs' advertisement calls as locational cues. The bats are less likely to respond to synchronous calls than to asynchronous calls, and when given a choice prefer complex calls to simple calls.

Experiments with bat models indicate that, like other frogs, S. sila probably uses visual cues to detect hunting bats. In response to bat models the frogs decreased both the number and the complexity of their calls. The calling behavior of the frogs was sampled in the field during periods with and without artificial illumination. The frogs produced fewer and less complex calls, and they tended to call from more concealed sites, during the period without illumination, when presumably it would have been more difficult for the frogs to detect hunting bats.

S. sila tended to call from sites with higher ambient noise level, the noise primarily originating from waterfalls. The frequencies of the dominant energies in the waterfall sounds completely overlapped the frequency range of the S. sila call; thus waterfalls might mask the frog calls. When given a choice between calls produced near and away from waterfall sounds, bats preferred the latter.

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Tuttle, M.D., Ryan, M.J. The role of synchronized calling, ambient light, and ambient noise, in anti-bat-predator behavior of a treefrog. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 11, 125–131 (1982).

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  • Noise Level
  • Ambient Noise
  • Ambient Light
  • Remarkable Ability
  • Ambient Noise Level