Eavesdropping on the call of túngara frogs: Lessons from an anuran model system in animal communication
Some of our research focuses on the interaction of frog-biting midges with túngara frogs (Engystomops, Physalaemus, pustulosus). These Neotropical frogs are a model system for understanding sexual selection and animal communication. Our research evaluates the acoustic preferences of the midges for túngara frog calls to within species variation and relative to other species, the selective pressures that may have played a role in the evolution of such preferences, and the potential costs imposed by the midges on the communication system of the frogs. As part of this work we are investigating the transmission of trypanosomes by the flies to túngara frogs and the consequences of such infection. With our collaborator Dr. Rachel Page we include in our research yet another eavesdropper in this system, the frog eating bats (Trachops cirrhosus). Our work addresses the combined effects of eavesdropper bats and midges on túngara frogs and other anurans in the community.
Take a look at how this interaction between túngara frogs and frog-biting midges looks in the wild: