Call Patterns and Basilar Papilla Tuning in Cricket Frogs. I. Differences among Populations and between Sexes

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Walter Wilczynski, Anne C. Keddy-Hector, Michael J. Ryan
Brain, Behavior, and Evolution
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Male cricket frogs (Acris crepitans) produce a broad-band, high frequency advertisement call with a single spectral peak (the dominant frequency). We measured the dominant frequencies of male calls from six populations in central Texas and one from Indiana and compared them to the tuning of basilar papilla afferents in males and females. Averaging over all populations, mean call dominant frequency was 3.69 kHz, mean male basilar papilla tuning was 3.63 kHz, and mean female basilar papilla tuning was 3.17 kHz. Among populations, mean dominant frequency varied from 3.56 kHz to 3.82 kHz. Dominant frequencies were slightly higher in the more eastern Texas populations occupying pine forest habitats than in the more western populations occupying open grassland habitats. Changes in dominant frequency in a population coincided with changes in tuning of both male and female basilar papillae. Furthermore, within populations females were tuned on average lower than males and lower than the mean dominant frequency of calls in their own population. We suggest that the coincident changes in calls and basilar papilla tuning plus the sexual difference in tuning indicate that female mate choice would be directed toward males from her home population with low frequency calls or toward males from foreign populations with average calls lower in frequency than those in her home population. This in turn suggests that any gene flow between populations would be biased from east to west and from forest to open habitats.


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