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Non-Selective and Time-Dependent Behavioural Responses of Common Toads (Bufo bufo) to Predator Acoustic Cues

Authors

  • Diego Llusia,

    1.  Fonoteca Zoológica, Departamento de Biodiversidad y Biología Evolutiva, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC, José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, Madrid, Spain
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  • Rafael Márquez,

    1.  Fonoteca Zoológica, Departamento de Biodiversidad y Biología Evolutiva, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC, José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, Madrid, Spain
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  • Juan F. Beltrán

    1.  Departamento de Zoología, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Sevilla, Avenida de la Reina Mercedes, Sevilla, Spain
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Diego Llusia, Fonoteca Zoológica, Departamento de Biodiversidad y Biología Evolutiva, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC, José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain.
E-mail: diego_llusia@mncn.csic.es

Abstract

Acoustic predator recognition has rarely been studied in anurans, in spite of the fact that hearing is widespread in these animals and that it has been demonstrated to play an important role in both arthropods and other vertebrates. Using field playback experiments, we tested the hypothesis that adult common toads (Bufo bufo) are capable of recognizing natural vocalizations of a common predator, the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), and show antipredator responses. We found that toads exposed to both natural (two types of otter sounds) and synthetic stimuli [white noise (WN) and otter sound-based amplitude modulated WN] increased time allocated to locomotion and escape behaviour. These responses were correlated with time elapsed from sunset to the onset of testing and were independent from the type of acoustic signal, toad features and other environmental factors monitored. We conclude that B. bufo has not developed a selective recognition of predator vocalizations, suggesting that low-frequency or seismic sounds associated with predator movements may provide anurans with better cues about an approaching risk. We propose that the time-dependent response to acoustic stimuli of common toads represents a case of threat-sensitivity and demonstrates that it can occur even when the response to the threat is not predator specific.

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