Dart-poison Frogs and the Control of Sexual Selection


  • Kyle Summers

    Corresponding author
    1. Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama
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      Summers, K. 1992: Dart-poison frogs and the control of sexual selection. Ethology 91, 89–107.

Department of Biology, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6.


In some species of dart-poison frogs (genus Dendrobates), males perform parental care. Some researchers have suggested that high relative parental investment by males in these species causes sex-role reversal. I argue here that, in general, three factors cause sexual selection: inequality of relative parental investment, variance in mate quality, and variability of parental investment. I review evidence from my previous research that contradicts the hypothesis that unequal relative parental investment can explain female mating strategies in two species of dart-poison frogs with male parental care. I then discuss the hypothesis that variability of male parental investment has an important effect on female mating strategies in these species.