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Sexual Differences in the Behavioral Response of Túngara Frogs, Physalaemus pustulosus, to Cues Associated with Increased Predation Risk


Ximena E. Bernal, Section of Integrative Biology C0930, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712, USA. E-mail:


Engaging in mating behaviors usually increases exposure to predators for both males and females. Anti-predator strategies during reproduction may have important fitness consequences for prey. Previous studies have shown that individuals of several species adjust their reproductive behavior according to their assessment of predation risk, but few studies have explored potential sexual differences in these strategies. In this study, we investigate whether the acoustic cues associated with predatory attacks or those associated with predators themselves affect the mating behavior of female and male túngara frogs, Physalaemus pustulosus. We compared the responses of females approaching a mate and those of calling males when exposed to mating calls associated with sounds representing increased hazard. When presented with mating calls that differed only in whether or not they were followed by a predation-related sound, females preferentially approached the call without predation-related sounds. In contrast to females, calling males showed greater vocal response to calls associated with increased risk than to a call by itself. We found significant differences in the responses of females and males to several sounds associated with increased hazard. Females behaved more cautiously than males, suggesting that the sexes balance the risk of predation and the cost of cautious mating strategies differently.