Anuran amphibians have provided an excellent system for the study of animal communication and sexual selection. Studies of female mate choice in anurans, however, have focused almost exclusively on the role of auditory signals. In this study, we examined the effect of both auditory and visual cues on female choice in the squirrel treefrog. Our experiments used a two-choice protocol in which we varied male vocalization properties, visual cues, or both, to assess female preferences for the different cues. Females discriminated against high-frequency calls and expressed a strong preference for calls that contained more energy per unit time (faster call rate). Females expressed a preference for the visual stimulus of a model of a calling male when call properties at the two speakers were held the same. They also showed a significant attraction to a model possessing a relatively large lateral body stripe. These data indicate that visual cues do play a role in mate attraction in this nocturnal frog species. Furthermore, this study adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests that multimodal signals play an important role in sexual selection.
Additional publication details
Sexual selection in the squirrel treefrog Hyla squirella: the role of multimodal cue assessment in female choice