Sexual selection in the spring peeper, Pseudacris crucifer, and multimodal signaling in the tungara frog, Physalaemus pustulosus
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Citation of Original PublicationWilhite, K. (2014). Sexual selection in the spring peeper, Pseudacris crucifer, and multimodal signaling in the tungara frog, Physalaemus pustulosus (Master's thesis). Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD.
Communication facilitates almost every social interaction between organisms and this communication is especially important for mate acquisition. Anuran amphibians are an excellent model system to study mate choice behaviors and sexual selection. In this work I recorded male calls ofthe spring peeper, Pseudacris crucifer, between two populations (Maryland and Louisiana) and analyzed call parameters such as frequency, duration, and rise and fall time. I found differences in the frequency and the frequency sweep of the calls. I conducted choice experiments to test female mating preferences in the Louisiana population and found a preference for longer calls over short calls. Females did not express a preference for frequency, frequency sweep, or local (LA) versus foreign (MD) calls. I also conducted multimodal signaling experiments on the tungara frog, Physalaemus pustulosus. I used natural calls and a robotic tungara frog to determine how females assess different signal modalities (auditory versus visual). I tested previously established attractive calls against unattractive calls, paired with the robo-frog and inflating vocal sac, to see if the visual stimulus would modulate the attractiveness of the call. The presence of the vocal sac did not make the unattractive call more attractive. The vocal sac may have important implications for localization in a more complex environment but here, it did not act as a mate attracting signal. This study provides the ground work necessary for multimodal signaling in spring peepers and for complex sensory environment choice tests in the tungara frog.