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Abstract

Female preferences for male call traits may affect male mating success and the evolution of exaggerated secondary sexual traits. We used phonotaxis experiments to examine female preferences in the frog Physalaemus enesefae in relation to variation in male call duration, dominant frequency, intercall interval and amplitude (dB SPL). Females preferred long calls, low and average dominant frequency calls, short intercall intervals and more intense calls. We compared the patterns of female preferences with those of acoustic variation among males to test the prediction that properties with low within-male variation are associated with stabilizing or weakly directional female preferences, whereas properties with high within-male variation are associated with directional preferences. Females had weakly directional preferences for the dominant frequency of the call and strongly directional preferences for call duration and call rate. We also determined whether the temporal relationship between calls influenced preferences based on the dominant frequency of the call. Preferences for low-frequency over high-frequency calls disappeared when calls partially overlapped. Females preferred the leading call regardless of its dominant frequency. We also investigated mating patterns in the field. There was size-assortative mating, as male and female body sizes snout-vent length (SVL) were positively correlated. In addition, differences in the frequency distributions of body length (SVL) between mated and unmated males approached significance; lower SVL classes were underrepresented among mated males. These patterns may reflect female preferences for lower dominant frequency calls, as there is a negative correlation between male mass and the dominant frequency of the call.