Acoustic niche partitioning in five Cuban frogs of the genus Eleutherodactylus

in Amphibia-Reptilia
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Acoustic segregation is a way to reduce competition and allows for species coexistence within anuran communities. Thus, separation in at least one acoustic niche dimension is expected, which also contributes to achieving effective communication among frogs. Here we studied an assemblage of five terrestrial egg-laying anuran species, all in the genus Eleutherodactylus, in a montane rainforest in eastern Cuba. Our aim was to determine if partitioning exists between these species in any dimension (time, signal frequency or space) of the acoustic niche. The studied assemblage had the following characteristics: (1) there was one diurnal species, two species with calling activity throughout the day and two species that call at night; (2) only two species overlapped in call frequencies and most had different calls, both in terms of dominant frequencies and in temporal characteristics; and (3) males of the species that overlapped in vocalizing time or signal frequency used different calling microhabitats or heights. This study provides evidence for the acoustic niche hypothesis in anurans, showing low probabilities of interference in sound communication among these frogs. The five species were separated in at least one of the three acoustic dimensions (calling time, frequency and site) as it occurs in mainland communities with more sympatric species of several genera. Conversely, species in single-genus communities studied in Puerto Rico overlapped completely in calling times. This seems to be due to the higher number of sympatric species at our site.

Acoustic niche partitioning in five Cuban frogs of the genus Eleutherodactylus

in Amphibia-Reptilia



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    Mean (± Standard deviation) values of vocal activity overlap between pairs of Eleutherodactylus species at La Gran Piedra, Cuba.

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    Temporal characteristics of the acoustic signals in five species of Eleutherodactylus species at La Gran Piedra, Cuba.

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    Calling height (cm) and types of sites used for calling by five species of Eleutherodactylus at La Gran Piedra, Cuba. In the “Height” column, mean ± SD and range in parentheses is shown. Values in “Calling site” columns are percentages of all observations. Codes for sites: BG = Bare Ground, BL = Bush leaves, CA = Canopy (leaves, branches and trunks of trees), LI = Inside litter, LO = On litter, OR = On rock, OT = Other (specified below with superscripts).

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    Calling activity patterns of five Eleutherodactylus species at La Gran Piedra, Cuba, from February to May 2003 (Cuban local time, UTC 5, is used in the X axis). Left graphics show the mean number of calling males for each survey period (rhombus: February; squares: March; triangles: April; circles: May). Right graphics show diel calling activity patterns estimated with the Overlap package (bold lines: average kernel-density estimates; thin and dashed lines: ± standard error). Grey bars indicate the range of sunrise and sunset times throughout the study months.

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    Diel pattern of temporal niche overlap among five Eleutherodactylus species at La Gran Piedra, Cuba, from February to May 2003 (Cuban local time, UTC 5, is used in the X axis). Top: average overlap coefficient among the five species each month, bottom: average overlap coefficient in the four surveyed months (bold lines: average kernel-density estimates; thin and dashed lines: ± standard error).

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    Dominant call frequencies plotted versus male body sizes (mean SVL of each species) of five Eleutherodactylus species at La Gran Piedra, Cuba. Mean (dot), minimum and maximum (error bars) dominant frequencies are showed for each species.


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