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Abstract

I studied variation in male calling behavior and its social correlates in Blanchard's cricket frog, Acris crepitans blanchardi. Calls were produced in distinct call groups, and they increased in duration and complexity from the beginning to end of a call group. Dominant frequency was the only character of 18 quantified consistently correlated with male snout-vent length. Calls from the beginning of a call group varied independently of calls from the middle and end of a call group, and only calls from the beginning of a call group exhibited significant variation among males, thus relative consistency within males. Other characters varied greatly within individual males. Unlike most other anurans, dominant frequency also exhibited tremendous within-male variation.

The relative influence of caller density, local caller density, nearest neighbor distance, and nearest neighbor sound pressure level on variation in male calling behavior was examined. Nearest neighbor distance, mediated through the sound-pressure level of neighbor calls, appeared to have the greatest influence on variation in male calling behavior. The most profound changes in calling behavior occurred during aggressive encounters; males altered their calling behavior in a manner suggesting that they respond to competitors with graded aggressive signals. Furthermore, the structure of the communication system suggests that calls are graded not only in response to the level of social competition, but graded over a call group as well.