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.
Free-living songbirds show increased stress hormone levels when nesting under white street lights. But different light spectra may have different physiological effects as this study finds, suggesting that using street lights with specific colour spectra may mitigate effects of light pollution on wildlife
Scientists identify the condition aphantasia, in which people cannot create images in their head
The dust in our homes contains an average of 9,000 different types of fungi and bacteria, a study suggests.
A mosquito can bear up to 23 times its total body weight on each leg, which is crucial for landing on water – the insect's secret is way it stands
Tropical species with smaller geographical ranges are more likely to die out in a warming climate than those that can adapt by ‘invading’ new regions
Most people think of bacteria as germs, signs of filth, or unwanted bringers of disease. Slowly, that view …
The gloomy octopuses crowded at Jervis Bay, Australia, appear to spit and throw debris such as shell at each other in what could be an intentional use of weapons
Therapies based on hormones that make us more trusting enhance our natural placebo effect – a finding that could alter the way clinical trials are conducted
The blind, hairless babies born recently at Washington D.C.'s National Zoo are completely dependent on their mothers—who can sometimes accidentally crush them.
The poop-hoarding insects have an amazingly advanced internal GPS that allows them to navigate by day or night.