Agonistic Encounters in a Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans) Chorus: Behavioral Outcomes Vary with Local Competition and within the Breeding Season

Authors


Corresponding author: S. Burmeister, Mezes Hall Rm 330, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712, USA. E-mail: burmeister@psy.utexas.edu

Abstract

Male cricket frogs (Acris crepitans) gather in breeding choruses and call to attract females. The call also serves to maintain an individual’s calling space. When an intruder invades a resident male’s space, the resident will display one of three behavior patterns. He will either attack the intruder, abandon calling, or tolerate the intruder’s presence and continue calling. We simulated an intruder by broadcasting a stimulus from a speaker and categorized the response of the resident male. We recorded social variables relevant to local competition among males, specifically, local caller density (within 2 m) and the amplitude of the nearest neighbor’s calls. In addition we recorded the size of the subject, the amplitude of the stimulus, and the time of night and the season. We used a multivariate approach to assess the relative importance of these variables. Local caller density and nearest neighbor call amplitude were the best predictors of a resident’s response to the intruder; higher levels of local competition resulted in more males tolerating the intruder. In addition, behavior changed over the season: males were more likely to abandon or ignore the intruder early in the season and more likely to attack later in the season. No other variables were related to the outcome of the agonistic encounter. This study suggests that the most important variables impinging on a male’s decision to fight, flee, or ignore an intruder are influences external to the individuals involved in the conflict.

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