Lovelorn frogs bag closest crooner

May 20, 2013
Lovelorn frogs bag closest crooner
Females tend to mate with the closest calling male. Credit: Ivonne Meuche, Oscar Brusa, Karl E. Linsenmair, Alexander Keller and Heike Pröhl

What lures a lady frog to her lover? Good looks, the sound of his voice, the size of his pad or none of the above? After weighing up their options, female strawberry poison frogs (Oophaga pumilio) bag the closest crooner they can, finds research in BioMed Central's open access journal Frontiers in Zoology. This seemingly short-sighted strategy turns out to be the optimal mate choice strategy for these colourful frogs.

Males of the species congregate in the Costa Rican 'lek-style' to display and call together, giving females the chance to weigh up multiple males at once. But despite their best efforts, build and territory size, females tend to mate with the closest calling male, Ivonne Meuche from the University of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover, Germany, and colleagues report.

The find was confirmed by playback experiments where females, played recordings of various male calls, failed to discriminate between different call rates or frequencies, preferring instead, the nearest speaker.

is a tricky business. Some species chose the first mate that is 'good enough' whilst others seek out and compare many mates before returning to choose the fittest. But the simplest, least costly option is to mate with the first or nearest male encountered, regardless of quality. The strategy doesn't seem an evolutionary winner as it means that nearby, unfit sometimes get to pass on their genes at the expense of more distant, genetically-superior specimens. But it does make sense in certain situations.

Non-choosy behaviour like this has been noted in fishes, and some with a lek-like mating system. It's thought the strategy works for them because it reduces 'costs' in terms of search time and competition for mates. Female strawberry may also benefit little from 'shopping around' because strong inter-male competition means the available mates are all much of a muchness.

The team also noted that females unable to find a mate within a certain time period ended up laying unfertilised eggs that never hatch. So in species, like the strawberry poison dart frog, where the choosing sex outnumbers the chosen sex, it makes sense to 'grab the nearest guy' rather than run the risk of not mating at all.

Explore further: Reversal of the black widow myth

More information: Frontiers in Zoology 2013 10:29, doi:10.1186/1742-9994-10-29

Related Stories

Reversal of the black widow myth

May 06, 2013

The Black Widow spider gets its name from the popular belief that female spiders eat their male suitors after mating. However, a new study has shown that the tendency to consume a potential mate is also true of some types ...

Vision stimulates courtship calls in the grey tree frog

Nov 19, 2012

Male tree frogs like to 'see what they're getting' when they select females for mating, according to a new study by Dr. Michael Reichert from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the US. His work, which is one of the ...

Discerning males remain faithful

Apr 24, 2012

Discerning males remain faithful ... if you are a spider. Sex for male orb web spiders (Argiope bruennichi) is a two shot affair since the act of mating destroys their genitalia. If they survive being eaten ...

Bisexual fish boost mating chances

Dec 12, 2012

In an unusual mating strategy, hard-up males of a tiny, promiscuous fish species engage in homosexual acts in a bid to entice females to copulate with them, a study said Wednesday.

'Paranoia' about rivals alters insect mating behavior

Aug 08, 2011

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that male fruitflies experience a type of 'paranoia' in the presence of another male, which doubles the length of time they mate with a female, despite the female of the ...

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Finnish inventor rethinks design of the axe

(Phys.org) —Finnish inventor Heikki Kärnä is the man behind the Vipukirves Leveraxe, which is a precision tool for splitting firewood. He designed the tool to make the job easier and more efficient, with ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.