Contests in amphibians

Dyson, Miranda L.; Rheichert, Michael S. and Halliday, Tim R. (2013). Contests in amphibians. In: Hardy, Ian and Briffa, Mark eds. Animal Contests. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 228–257.

URL: http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/life...

Abstract

Studies of contests among amphibians are heavily biased towards acoustic contests in frogs: in these, males compete to be attractive to females or to defend territories required for some aspect of reproduction. While the calls of frogs are species-specific and appear to be highly stereotyped, these studies have revealed a high degree of plasticity that enables males to vary their calls in response to their immediate circumstances. Because calling is energetically expensive, males must face trade-offs between increasing their immediate calling effort and conserving energy for future mating opportunities. In some species, they also trade-off between repelling rival males and attracting females; this is because females are averse to aggressive calls. There is a great deal less known about contests among salamanders and caecilians, primarily because these animals are much harder to observe and because their primary means of communication, olfaction, is harder to manipulate experimentally than the acoustic signals of frogs. Despite many unanswered questions, a great deal has been learned about aggressive behaviour in amphibians, and these studies have made important contributions towards a general understanding of animal contests. This chapter discusses the diversity of issues related to contest behaviour in amphibians and highlights how these organisms remain fruitful subjects for future studies of animal contests

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