A frog’s vibes attracts mates

June 30th, 2010 - 3:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, June 30 (IANS) Unlike his peers, the red-eyed tree frog does not croak the loudest or make pretty sounds to attract mates but generates vibes to improve its romantic prospects.
The discovery has been made by Flinders University (Australia) senior lecturer and conservation biologist Gregory Johnston and colleagues from Boston University in the US.

They discovered that the flamboyantly coloured frog from Central America uses its rear legs to send ’seismic signals’ along tree branches to ward off rival males encroaching on its territory.

The discovery paves the way for “a whole realm of possibilities” of new research into how animals communicate.

“Unlike most species of frogs, the red-eyed tree frog doesn’t show any evidence of females choosing a mate with the loudest or prettiest voice,” Johnston said.

“Instead, male red-eyed tree frogs set up territories around the edge of a pond and sequester females and mate with them. Females are quite indiscriminate and will mate with several males,” he said.

“Having a territory is really important to these male frogs for getting a mate and reproducing. By creating a vibration on a bush, they send a clear signal to other males to ‘back off’ while keeping it a secret from predators which cannot detect the vibrations,” he said.

Johnston made the discovery while observing the frogs in a Panamanian rainforest in 1999 while working with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

His initial investigation, using a miniature seismograph to measure the signals, led to experiments over more than seven years by his North American colleagues. These findings were presented in Current Biology.

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