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Some Determinants of the Mating System in a Population of Painted Reed Frogs (Hyperolius Marmoratus)

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Hyperolius marmoratus shares its breeding site with 12 synchronously breeding species. Males call from elevated perches to attract females. Observations of captive populations suggest that males may adopt alternative mating strategies when chorus densities are high. Similar strategies were not observed in natural choruses. The operational sex ratio (OSR) was always male-biased and also highly variable. Mating was polygynous, only 25% of the male population actually mated. Females mated either once or twice. Variance in mating success was much greater among males, an obvious consequence of a skewed OSR. Female choice was probably not a causal factor because male mating success was correlated with neither size nor age. Size-based variation in the male advertisement call does exist, but females cannot exploit this potential vocal cue because of their impaired discriminatory ability in a complex sonic environment and the potential risk of mismating. Although the mating system may best be described as lek-like, with males forming organised choruses through competitive interactions, the variance in male mating success is probably a consequence of stochastic factors.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Zimbabwe, P.O. Box MP 167, Mount Pleasant, Harare; 2: Department of Zoology, University of the Witwatersrand, 1, Jan Smuts Avenue, Johannesburg, South Africa, respectively

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