Defining the active space of cane toad (Rhinella marina) advertisement calls: males respond from further than females

in Behaviour
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Many animals produce advertisement vocalisations to attract mates. A vocalisation’s active space is the area within which a receiver responds to it, while its maximum extent occurs when a receiver stops responding. We mapped behavioural responses of male and female cane toads (Rhinella marina) to advertisement calls, by conducting experimental playbacks to: (i) examine attenuation of a cane toad call, (ii) define the active space of these vocalisations, by measuring phonotaxis at different distances from the call, and (iii) quantify the active space of calls for both sexes, separately. The call was fully attenuated 120–130 m from its source. Both sexes displayed positive phonotaxis 20–70 m from calls. Males also displayed positive phonotaxis 70–120 m from calls, whereas females’ movement preferences were random >70 m from a call. Differences between male and female responses were likely driven by differences in their use of information provided by calls.

Defining the active space of cane toad (Rhinella marina) advertisement calls: males respond from further than females

in Behaviour



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    The mean attenuation of a cane toad (Rhinella marina) call over 200 m with respect to mean ambient environmental noise. The difference in sound pressure level between the two measurements is the signal-to-noise ratio. Points represent the mean ± SEM.

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    The angle, and length of the mean vector for movement paths when toads were released from; (a) <10 m from the calling speaker, (b) 20–70 m from the calling speaker, (c) 70–120 m from the calling speaker, and (d) >120 m from the calling speaker. The angle of each arrow represents the mean direction of movement from that release distance, while the length of each arrow represents the concentration of angles around that mean direction (i.e., the longer the arrow, the more concentrated movement paths are around the mean).

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    Direction and distance moved by male (a, c, e and g) and female (b, d, f and h) toads exposed to advertisement calls when released up to 200 m away from the speaker. Arrow heads indicate the location of toads after 10 min: (a, b) <10 m away from the calling speaker (movement paths not significantly different from random), (c, d) between 20 m and 70 m from the calling unit (movement paths significantly towards the speaker), (e, f) between 70 m and 120 m from the calling unit (male vectors significantly towards the speaker, females not significantly different from random), and (g, h) when released from >120 m from the sound of a cane toad call (vectors not significantly different from random). Full results reported in the text. Figures (c), (d), (e) and (f) have been rescaled due to the larger distance moved by toads when released at these distances.

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