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Love bites: midges and bats attack frogs while they are trying to attract a mate


Male túngara frogs

Male túngara frogs produce conspicuous frequency modulated whines to attract females but, by doing so, they also attract predatory bats and fro-biting midges that attack them. Although life as a male frog is not easy when trying to attract females, being an eavesdropper is not as straightforward either. In a recently published paper, Assistant Professor Ximena Bernal (and co-authors Mike Ryan and Rachel Page) present how bats and midges influence the evolution of frog calls, but the frog's communication systems can in turn drive sensory adaptations in those eavesdroppers. Frog-eating bats can hear lower frequencies than other bats and learn to approach calls of túngara frogs and avoid calls of large, toxic toads. Similarly, frog-biting midges respond to frequencies outside the hearing range of closely related species and may have evolved a tympanic ear just to hear frog calls.


Publication: Page, R.A., Ryan, M.J. & Bernal, X.E. 2014. Be Loved, Be Preyed, Be Eaten. pp. 123-154.In: Animal Behavior, vol 3. Case Studies: Integration and Application of Animal Behavior (ed., K. Yasukawa), New York: Praeger.

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