Office of Undergraduate Research

Call Repertoires in Frogs

Anurans (Frogs & Toads) are highly vocal creatures. Most people are familiar with the mating calls male anurans produce during the breeding season. Much less known is the fact that the vocal repertoire of many species includes several additional call types, each probably used in a different behavioral context. This project will survey the call types found in different species of Wisconsin frogs, investigate the behavioral contexts associated with different call types, and pinpoint the call features that communicate the different messages associated with each call type. We will record frog calls under natural conditions and describe the behavioral contexts in which we observe different call types. By broadcasting natural or computer-generated calls, or by introducing other males and females, we will create different behavioral contexts and record how the calls of focal males change as behavioral contexts change. We will also present different call types to female frogs and observe whether they are attracted or repulsed by them.

Tasks and responsibilities:

Research in my lab consists of a combination of field and lab work. Due to the seasonality of frog breeding activity, field work is concentrated in spring and early summer, and generally takes place at night (when the animals are most active). Call and data analysis take place throughout the year. Depending on their interest students can be involved in field work (catching frogs, recording calls at the pond, conducting outdoor playback experiments) or tasks that are carried out in the lab (running female choice trials, call analysis). There will also be an opportunity to learn how to use call analysis software, data entry and statistical analysis.