Many kinds of environmental noise can interfere with acoustic communication and efficient decision making in terrestrial species. Here we identified an exception to this generalization in a streamside species, the little torrent frog (Amolops torrentis) which communicates in a stream noise environment. To determine whether stream noise can act as a cue regarding the microhabitat characteristics of senders, we performed phonotaxis experiments using stimulus pairs constructed with synthetic male calls (high or low dominant frequency) and stream noise with varied signal-to-noise ratios. We found that females prefer calls with high amplitude stream noise added compared to those with low amplitude stream noise added for both high and low dominant frequency stimulus pairs; however, stream noise itself was not attractive in the absence of calls. These results show that stream noise can function as a cue that may be used by females for enhancing the attractiveness of calls. Stream noise associates closely with rocks, topographies and vegetation and may thus provide useful microhabitat information for signal receivers, thereby acting on sexual selection. These data therefore contribute to our understanding of how the perception of mate attractiveness in heterogeneous ecological environments can evolve.
Journal of Ethology – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 18, 2017
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