Visual cues elicit courtship signals in a nocturnal anuran
- 513 Downloads
In lekking species, the allocation of effort into mate attraction signals is not uniform over time, and signalers may expend the greatest effort when potential mates are nearby. Close-range courtship interactions are critical determinants of male fitness and the study of these interactions can therefore answer important questions in sexual selection. In anurans, attention has largely focused on long-range mate attraction mediated by acoustic signaling. However, many species also engage in courtship behaviors at close range, and the cues that elicit these behaviors are unknown but likely to be non-acoustic. I performed an experiment in which I assessed the role of female visual cues in eliciting courtship calls by males of the nocturnal treefrog Hyla versicolor. Males that could see an approaching female were more likely to give courtship calls than those that could not. These results provide some of the first evidence for an effect of vision on calling behavior in a nocturnal anuran and demonstrate that multiple sensory modalities are involved in the final stages of mate attraction.
KeywordsNocturnal vision Courtship Anuran Phonotaxis
Members of the Gerhardt lab assisted with frog collection. Flavia Barbosa and two anonymous reviewers gave helpful comments on previous versions of this manuscript. Funding was provided by a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation, Dean E. Metter Memorial Award from the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, and Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need fellowship from the University of Missouri and the U.S. Department of Education.
The Missouri Department of Conservation gave permission to collect frogs. The University of Missouri Animal Care and Use Committee approved the experimental procedures (protocol number 6546).
Conflict of interest
The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.
- Dyson ML, Passmore NI, Bishop PJ, Henzi SP (1992) Male behavior and correlates of mating success in a natural population of African painted reed frogs (Hyperolius marmoratus). Herpetologica 48:236–246Google Scholar
- Ewert J-P (2004) Motion perception shapes the visual world of amphibians. In: Prete FR (ed) Complex worlds from simpler nervous systems. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp 117–160Google Scholar
- Gerhardt HC (1982) Sound pattern recognition in some North American treefrogs (Anura: Hylidae): implications for mate choice. Am Zool 22:581–595Google Scholar
- Gerhardt HC, Huber F (2002) Acoustic communication in insects and anurans. The University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
- Hödl W, Amézquita A (2001) Visual signaling in anuran amphibians. In: Ryan MJ (ed) Anuran communication. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., pp 121–141Google Scholar
- Wells KD (1980) Social behavior and communication of a dendrobatid frog (Colostethus trinitatis). Herpetologica 36:189–199Google Scholar
- Wells KD (1988) The effect of social interactions on anuran vocal behavior. In: Fritzsch B, Ryan MJ, Wilczynski W, Hetherington TE, Walkowiak W (eds) The evolution of the amphibian auditory system. Wiley, New York, pp 433–454Google Scholar
- Wells KD (2007) The ecology and behavior of amphibians. The University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar