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Behav Processes. 1982 Apr;7(1):37-47. doi: 10.1016/0376-6357(82)90051-1.

Vocal response of male European water frogs (Rana Esculenta complex) to mating and territorial calls.

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Zoological Institute, University of Bonn, Poppelsdorfer Schloss, D-5300 Bonn Federal Republic of Germany.


The responses of male European water frogs (the two species Rana lessonae and Rana ridibunda and their hybrid, Rana esculenta) to playback of their mating and territorial calls were studied during the mating season. In order to select biologically relevant intensities for the presentation of the recorded calls, the sound pressure of the calls produced by the frogs themselves was established prior to the experiment. At a distance of 1 m the most intense calls were those of R. ridibunda, with a sound pressure of 110 dB (peak SPL). The smaller males of R. esculenta gave calls about 5 dB lower in intensity. The calls of R. lessonae, the smallest phenotype, were still less intense, 10 dB lower than those of R. ridibunda. The territorial calls of all three phenotypes elicited territorial calls in all of the males tested, as a rule accompanied by approach to the sound source. The sound pressure required to elicit a vocal response was nearly the same for each of the three different territorial calls. Sometimes encounter calls and warning calls were given in addition to territorial calls. When the mating calls were presented at low intensity, in some cases the males responded with their own mating calls. Mating calls at higher intensity elicited the same behavior that appeared following presentation of territorial calls, but significantly higher sound pressures were required to elicit such a response to mating calls than to territorial calls. The males of R. lessonae and R. esculenta did not respond to the mating calls of R. ridibunda, and each of them had significantly lower thresholds to the mating call of its own phenotype than to that of the other. The males of R. ridibunda responded only to conspecific mating calls. The vocal-response thresholds are compared with those of the electrodermal response reacting to the same stimuli. The significance of the different calls of the European water frogs is discussed.

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