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The functional significance of the diphasic advertisement call of Geocrinia victoriana (Anura: Leptodactylidae)


The advertisement call of Geocrinia victoriana is markedly diphasic and consists of one introcuctory note (rarely two or three), followed by a series of repeated notes of similar carrier frequency, but much shorter duration and higher pulse rate. In two-choice field discrimination experiments with the two phases of the advertisement call presented as alternative stimuli, reproductively ripe females were attracted only to the repeated notes and contacted the source of these signals (a loudspeaker). Field playback experiments were carried out on residential males, with a complete call, an introductory note, or a series of repeated notes being used as the stimulus, and intensity varied upwards in 10 dB increments. With the complete call or the introductory note as the stimulus, calling behaviour of subjects altered significantly from the pre-stimulatory pattern, with a great reduction in output of repeated notes, and an increase in duration and decrease in pulse rate of introductory notes. The threshold intensity (lowest level for a significant change in calling behaviour) with the introductory note as the stimulus, 90–99.9 dB peak sound pressure level (PSPL), was at least 10 dB lower than that with the complete call as the stimulus (110–125 dB, PSPL). Playback of repeated notes had little effect on calling behaviour until the intensity exceeded 120 dB, PSPL. Playback of all three classes of stimulus at constant intensities below and above the threshold for the complete call (i.e. 99–99.9, and 110–125 dB, PSPL) indicated that changes in calling behaviour were due to the intensity of stimulus rather than to a cumulative effect based on the number of stimuli. Measurements of intensities of advertisement calls of nearest neighbours in natural breeding assemblages (modal class=104–106 dB, PSPL) were consistent with the experimental results. It was thus demonstrated that in G. victoriana the two functions of the advertisement call are partitioned: the repeated notes attract breeding females (hence are equivalent to the mating call), and the introductory notes are directed at other males in a territorial context. The increase in duration of the introductory note is graded rather than discrete, so that this phase of the advertisement call changes progressively from the equivalent of a long-range (first-order) to a short-range (second-order) territorial call, then to an encounter call.

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Littlejohn, M.J., Harrison, P.A. The functional significance of the diphasic advertisement call of Geocrinia victoriana (Anura: Leptodactylidae). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 16, 363–373 (1985).

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  • Playback Experiment
  • Advertisement Call
  • Ripe Female
  • Introductory Note
  • Mating Call