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Temporal updating during phonotaxis in male túngara frogs (Physalaemus pustulosus)

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In acoustically advertising anurans the male courtship call elicits species-typical responses from conspecifics – usually phonotactic approach and mate choice in gravid females and an evoked vocal response in adult males. Males in several species, however, are also known to perform phonotaxis, sometimes with the same acoustic preferences as females. Female túngara frogs are known to update their phonotactic approach as male advertisement signals change dynamically in attractiveness. Here we show that males also perform such temporal updating during phonotaxis in response to dynamic playbacks. While males exhibit slower phonotactic approaches than females, their responsiveness to dynamic changes in call complexity does not differ significantly compared to females. These results demonstrate that males are sensitive to the location of preferred call types on a moment-to-moment basis and suggest that similarities between male and female sexual behaviour in anurans might often be overlooked. We suggest that anuran phonotaxis is more widespread and serves different functions in reproductive females and males. Lastly, these temporal updating results suggest that male frogs are highly selective about site selection in a chorus.

Affiliations: 1: Section of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas, 1 University Station C0930, Austin, TX 78712, USA, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Deparment of Migration and Immuno-ecology, Schlossallee 2, 78315 Radolfzell, Germany;, Email:; 2: Section of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas, 1 University Station C0930, Austin, TX 78712, USA, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, P.O. Box 0943-03092 Balboa Ancón, Republic of Panamá


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