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Individual Male Calling Pattern and Male Mating Success in the European Treefrog (Hyla arborea): Is there Evidence for Directional or Stabilizing Selection on Male Calling Behaviour?

Authors

  • Thomas W.P. Friedl

    1. Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, Institut für Biologie und Umweltwissenschaften, AG Zoophysiologie & Verhalten, Oldenburg, Germany
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Dr Thomas W. P. Friedl, Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, Institut für Biologie und Umweltwissenschaften, AG Zoophysiologie & Verhalten, Postfach 2503, D-26111 Oldenburg, Germany. E-mail: thomas.friedl@uni-oldenburg.de

Abstract

In anurans, call properties are commonly classified based on within-male variability as being either static or dynamic. Numerous playback experiments in the laboratory have indicated that female preferences based on dynamic call properties are usually strongly directional, while female preferences based on static call properties are often stabilizing or weakly directional. However, there are only few studies demonstrating that female preferences for high values of dynamic call properties indeed exert directional selection on male calling behaviour in natural populations. Moreover, field studies investigating whether female preferences for values of static call properties around the mean of the population lead to currently operating stabilizing selection on male calling patterns in natural populations are completely lacking. Here I investigate for two consecutive breeding seasons male calling patterns and male mating success in a population of individually marked European treefrogs (Hyla arborea), a hylid frog with prolonged breeding season and a lek mating system. Individual male calling pattern as analysed in terms of seven temporal and spectral call properties did not differ between males that survived from one breeding season to the next and those not surviving. None of the seven call properties investigated differed significantly between mated and unmated males, indicating that there is no strong directional selection on male calling behaviour in the study population. However, in one study season males that produced calls with a number of pulses around the mean of the population were significantly more likely to obtain matings than males that produced calls with a number of pulses at the low or high end of the distribution. Thus, this study provides preliminary evidence for the operation of stabilizing selection on a static call property (i.e. the number of pulses per call) in a natural population of an anuran amphibian.

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