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Bioacoustics in American Naturalist

To: Bioacoustics <>
Subject: Bioacoustics in American Naturalist
From: Alan McElligott <>
Date: Tue, 6 Feb 2007 14:44:43 +0000 (GMT)
Am. Nat. 2007. Vol. 169, pp. 409-415. © 2007 by The University of Chicago.

Natural History Miscellany 

 Cues for Eavesdroppers: Do Frog Calls Indicate Prey Density and Quality?  

Ximena E. Bernal,1* Rachel A. Page,1, A. Stanley Rand,2, and Michael J. Ryan1,§ 

 1. Section of Integrative Biology, University of Texas, Austin, Texas 78712;

 2. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado 2072, Balboa, Panama 

Submitted May 1, 2006; Accepted August 17, 2006; Electronically published 
January 11, 2007

  Online enhancements: videos, sound file.

 ABSTRACT: Predators and parasites that eavesdrop on the mating signals of 
their prey often preferentially select individuals within a prey/host species 
that produce specific cues. Mechanisms driving such signal preferences are 
poorly understood. In the túngara frog Physalaemus pustulosus, conspecific 
females, frog-eating bats, and blood-sucking flies all prefer complex to simple 
mating calls. In this study we assess the natural signal variation in choruses 
in the wild and test two hypotheses for why eavesdroppers prefer complex calls: 
(1) prey quality: complex calls indicate better quality of prey/host, and (2) 
prey density: complex calls indicate higher prey/host density. Call complexity 
is not correlated with frog length, mass, or body condition, but it does signal 
higher abundance of prey/host. Thus, increased effectiveness of attack may have 
played a role favoring the preference for complex calls in eavesdropping 

   Keywords: audience, call preferences, communication network, prey 


     * E-mail:   


      Stan Rand died on November 14, 2005.  

     § E-mail: 


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