Social interactions in a neotropical stream frog reveal a complex repertoire of visual signals and the use of multimodal communication

in Behaviour
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Visual communication has evolved independently in several families of frogs and is complex in diurnal stream frogs. In addition to isolated visual and acoustic signals, some species may emit multimodal displays characterized by the association of these signals. Through the analysis of focal recordings obtained in situ in southern Brazil, we investigated the visual and multimodal communication in the diurnal stream frog Crossodactylus schmidti. We found a complex visual repertoire of nine signals used in intraspecific communication, of which the signal Both legs kicking was described for the first time. Males, females and juveniles emitted visual signals, but males had a larger repertoire and used most signals in agonistic interactions. The four most common visual signals, Toe flagging, Limb lifting, Body jerking and Running-jumping, were emitted predominantly upon rocks in the stream bed. The emission of isolated visual and acoustic signals, as well as audiovisual displays with simultaneous or temporally coupled components, demonstrates that the communication in C. schmidti is complex and that the multimodal displays may have different functions. We discuss the historical, behavioural, ecological factors which may have influenced the evolution of the visual repertoire of C. schmidti, and how the ritualization of derived activities similar to visual signals may have led to the evolution of part of the repertoire. This study provides novel results on visual and multimodal communication for the genus Crossodactylus and demonstrates that C. schmidti represents an appropriate model for studies of complex displays.

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Figures

  • Mosaic distribution of the most frequent visual signals of Crossodactylus schmidti (674 signalizations from 54 individuals) according to the sites used for signal emission, based on 22 h of observations in Parque Estadual do Turvo, northwest of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Each column represents the total frequency of emission of a visual signal and the numbered lines represent the emission sites used to signalize a visual signal; the relative frequency of signal emission is proportionally distributed within rectangles, and dashes represent the absence of a visual signal for the respective site. Abbreviations: TF, Toe flagging; LL, Limb lifting; BJ, Body jerking; RJ, Running-jumping; 1, on rock, above the water level; 2, on rock, at the water level; 3, on rock, below the water level; 4, on vegetation, at the water level; 5, on marginal vegetation. This figure is published in colour in the online edition of this journal, which can be accessed via http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/1568539x.

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  • Percentage of unimodal (visual) and multimodal (visual + acoustic) displays emitted by males of Crossodactylus schmidti (227 signalizations) considering the most frequent visual signals, based on 6 h of representative focal recordings of advertising males (N=2), agonistic interactions between males (N=22) and courtship interactions (N=12), selected from the total time of recordings obtained in Parque Estadual do Turvo, northwest of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Abbreviations: TF, Toe flagging; LL, Limb lifting; BJ, Body jerking; RJ, Running-jumping.

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