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Keywords:

  • Rana lessonae;
  • call characters;
  • phylogeography

Abstract

Vocalization is an important component of male reproductive behaviour in a wide range of animal taxa. In some species there is considerable intraspecific variation of call characters partitioned on a regional basis. Such ‘regional accents’ could originate from cultural or genetic evolution and have been widely studied in birds. Amphibians, however, have limited learning abilities, and where regional accents occur in this group they are primarily a consequence of genetic evolution. This raises the possibility that regional variations in anuran call characters might be informative about phylogeographic history. Microsatellite studies of the pool frog Rana lessonae have been used previously to infer patterns of post-glacial colonization in Europe, with unexpectedly complex implications for northernmost populations of this species. Therefore, regional variation in call characters of the pool frog was quantified and the pattern observed was concordant with the differentiation of a distinct northern clade as implied by the microsatellite study. We therefore conclude that regional accents in this amphibian are useful phylogeographic indicators of distribution history.