Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 67, Issue 2, pp 265–271 | Cite as

Visual cues elicit courtship signals in a nocturnal anuran

  • Michael S. Reichert
Original Paper


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.


Nocturnal 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.

Ethical standards

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.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA

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