Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

I am treefrog, feel me shake

Date:
May 21, 2010
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Using experiments involving a mechanical shaker and a robotic frog, researchers have found new evidence that male red-eyed treefrogs communicate with one another in aggressive contests by using vibrations they send through their plant perches. The findings open the door to further study of what has been a neglected channel for vertebrate communication.

Red eyed tree frog-agalychnis callidryas. Male red-eyed treefrogs communicate with one another in aggressive contests by using vibrations they send through their plant perches.
Credit: iStockphoto/Daniel Halfmann

Using experiments involving a mechanical shaker and a robotic frog, researchers reporting online on May 20th in Current Biology have found new evidence that male red-eyed treefrogs communicate with one another in aggressive contests by using vibrations they send through their plant perches. The findings open the door to further study of what has been a neglected channel for vertebrate communication.

"In the case of red-eyed treefrogs, tremulation displays in which the frogs shake their entire bodies convey information about the status and aggressive intent of the signaler," says Michael Caldwell of Boston University. "They also appear to carry information about the size of the signaler."

Earlier studies recognized the importance of vibrational signals for arthropod communication. Scientists had their suspicions that vertebrates on plants or in trees might rely on vibrational signals to communicate, too, but it had not been experimentally demonstrated until now.

In a series of playback experiments conducted at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, the researchers found that plant-borne vibrations generated by the shaking display of male red-eyed treefrogs (Agalychnis callidryas) act as a signal and are both necessary and sufficient to elicit tremulations by other treefrogs in response. The frogs also tend to become more aggressive during visual playbacks, the researchers say, suggesting that both components of the signal may be important.

In male-male contests, tremulations were the most frequent aggressive display, and their use and vibrational characteristics varied with male size and depending on the context. The researchers say it now appears that most of the treefrogs' other signaling behaviors, including their acoustic calls, also generate strong and stereotyped vibrations that travel through plants and might carry information.

Caldwell explains that, although common, the frogs' behavior had likely been missed because of the tendency of human researchers to overlook vibrational signals, and because the treefrogs don't act normal under white light. "When we attached vibration-sensitive accelerometers to the plants and looked at the frogs under infrared light, we saw a whole new range of fascinating behaviors," he said.

The findings in treefrogs are likely applicable to other arboreal vertebrates, such as other frogs, lizards, birds, and primates, the researcher say. "Studies on frogs, birds, and primates have formed the core of our understanding of vertebrate communication," the researchers write, "yet we know almost nothing about vibrational signaling in these species. The further study of vibrational communication among arboreal vertebrates presents important unexplored opportunities to improve our comprehension of the behavioral ecology of these species, and of animal communication as a whole."

The researchers include Michael S. Caldwell, Boston University, Boston, MA; Gregory R. Johnston, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, Royal Zoological Society of South Australia, Adelaide Zoo, Adelaide, Australia, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama, Republica de Panama; J. Gregory McDaniel, Boston University, Boston, MA; and Karen M. Warkentin, Boston University, Boston, MA, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama, Republica de Panama.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michael S. Caldwell, Gregory R. Johnston, J. Gregory McDaniel, and Karen M. Warkentin. Vibrational Signaling in the Agonistic Interactions of Red-Eyed Treefrogs. Current Biology, May 20, 2010 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.03.069

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "I am treefrog, feel me shake." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100520131433.htm>.
Cell Press. (2010, May 21). I am treefrog, feel me shake. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100520131433.htm
Cell Press. "I am treefrog, feel me shake." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100520131433.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins