Sequential Polygyny During Egg Attendance is Rare in a Tree Frog and Does not Increase Male Fitness



Yeong-Choy Kam, Department of Life Science, Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan 40704, R.O.C.


Hon-Tsen Yu, Institute of Zoology and Department of Life Science, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan 10617, R.O.C.



Sequential polygyny is a reproductive strategy that allows males to continue to mate and compensates for the loss of future breeding opportunities incurred by parental care (i.e. egg attendance). Using the frog Kurixalus eiffengeri, we tested predictions that (1) attending males fathered two, overlapping clutches; and (2) that double clutching leads to improved offspring numbers. Using five microsatellite DNA markers, we genotyped 15 pairs of overlapping clutches, which differed slightly in developmental stage at a single egg-laying site. Parentage analyses showed at least 12 of 15 pairs of overlapping egg clutches were sired by the attending male mated with different females, providing the first genetic evidence to support an earlier prediction that attending males sired both egg clutches. Field surveys found a low incidence of overlapping clutches (4.9% of 263 egg-occupied stumps), suggesting sequential polygyny is uncommon. Stumps with multiple clutches contained significantly more eggs than stumps with single clutches but hatched similar number of tadpoles. Results suggest that continuous calling that attracts females during egg attendance is a reproductive tactic that maximizes mating opportunities. However, adoption of the sequential polygyny tactic may only result in marginal fitness gains for males that are traded off against average higher egg mortality in larger egg clutches.