Male tree frogs like to 'see what they're getting' when they select females for mating, according to a new study by Dr. Michael Reichert from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the US. His work, which is one of the first to test the importance of vision on male mating behaviors in a nocturnal anuran (frog or toad), is published online in Springer's journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.
Animals display a number of courtship behaviors and are able to modulate these behaviors depending on the likelihood of mating. For example, displaying males may increase the expression of a costly courtship behavior when receptive females are nearby. Male anurans also exhibit unique behaviors when females are in close proximity, including courtship calls.
Reichert's work looks at the role of vision on the production of courtship calls in the grey tree frog, Hyla versicolor. Frogs are highly sensitive to motion so visual cues are likely to stimulate the production of courtship calls.
Male and female frogs were captured from local ponds in Boone County, Missouri. The males were then split into two groups - one group could see the female at close range; the other group were separated from the female by an opaque screen. Reichert recorded and compared the vocal behavior - both number of courtship calls and their duration - of both groups of male frogs.
He found that males were highly responsive to the visual cues from the female, and they altered their calling behavior to be more attractive to the female. Specifically, males were significantly more likely to give courtship calls when they were able to see an approaching female, and their calls were longer.
Reichert concludes: "In the noisy chorus environment, males can only attract females from a limited distance; thus, a strategy of monitoring the environment for female cues, and only producing the highest performance calls when females are present, should balance the costs of high performance calls while maximizing the likelihood of attracting a mate."
Reichert MS (2012). Visual cues elicit courtship signals in a nocturnal anuran. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology; DOI 10.1007/s00265-012-1446-9
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
South Africa has begun testing a humane way to make its beaches safer
There used to be rhinos in North America. In fact, they originated on the continent. The earliest ones …
James Watson is to sell the Nobel Prize medal he won for the discovery of the structure of DNA.
An international team of more than 100 researchers has mapped the genome of the centipede and found that, while it easily outpaces humans on number of legs, it falls short when it comes to genes.
The tech giant has created a utensil to make mealtime easier for people with Parkinson's disease and essential tremors
The brain has a weak spot for Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia, according to experts who have pinpointed the region using scans.
Scientists in California have captured the elusive anglerfish on film in its natural habitat, 1,900 feet below sea level
Researchers were shocked to discover multiple instances of seal-on-penguin rape
The tiny shrimp survive without sunlight and crawl within an inch of boiling hot waters
Birds are one of the most widely studied forms of life on the planet. And, there are still new species out there to discover — as one young researcher found recently in a forest in Indonesia.