Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 66, Issue 3, pp 433–444 | Cite as

Call timing is determined by response call type, but not by stimulus properties, in the treefrog Dendropsophus ebraccatus

  • Michael S. Reichert
Original Paper


A common form of signal competition in acoustically chorusing animals involves the precise timing of calls relative to those of other nearby individuals. In this study, I present a detailed description of nonrandom timing of both advertisement and aggressive calls in males of the Neotropical treefrog Dendropsophus ebraccatus. I used playback tests to measure call delays for both advertisement and aggressive calls given in response to synthetic advertisement and aggressive call stimuli presented with either a fixed or random timing arrangement. Call delays for a given response call type were nonrandomly distributed and did not differ depending on the fixed or random periodicity of stimulus presentation or on the stimulus call type. In general, advertisement call responses overlapped the playback stimuli, while aggressive calls were given with a much longer delay and did not overlap the playback stimuli. A second test involved the presentation of low pulse number advertisement and aggressive call stimuli to determine if males were capable of nonrandom timing to truncated stimuli. These playbacks also assessed whether they responded more aggressively to truncated aggressive call stimuli. Males usually showed synchrony in response to truncated calls of both types, more commonly in response to truncated advertisement calls. There were no differences in aggressive responses to truncated advertisement or aggressive calls. Call delays appear to be a property solely of the type of call that the male produces, regardless of the kind of stimulus. Thus, there may be a conflict between the ability to discriminate between signals and the ability to rapidly respond to these signals with an appropriate call delay.


Call timing Synchrony Alternation Aggressive call 



This work was supported by a Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need fellowship from the University of Missouri and the U.S. Department of Education (P200A070476). Flavia Barbosa, Carl Gerhardt, and two anonymous reviewers provided helpful criticism on earlier versions of this paper. John Christy sponsored this project at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. I would like to thank the STRI staff for their logistical assistance. Benjamin Nickelson and Daniel Gruhn assisted with call analyses. This article is part of Michael S. Reichert’s doctoral dissertation at the University of Missouri.

Ethical standards

These experiments comply with the current laws of the Republic of Panama and the United States of America. The Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente of the Republic of Panama provided permits for this work. The experimental protocol was approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee of the University of Missouri (ACUC protocol no. 1910).

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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