Multimodal stimuli regulate reproductive behavior and physiology in male túngara frogs.

Research paper by Meghan B MB Still, Amanda M AM Lea, Hans A HA Hofmann, Michael J MJ Ryan

Indexed on: 02 Apr '20Published on: 25 Jun '19Published in: Hormones and Behavior


Unlike in terrestrial animals, the boundary between internal (e.g., hormones) and external (e.g., social) stimulation can be blurred for aquatic and amphibious species. When chemicals such as hormones and glandular secretions leach into the water, they can further interact with other signaling systems, creating multimodal stimuli. It is unclear, however, whether water-borne chemical secretions from courting male frogs affect the physiology and behavior of their rivals. In order to address this question we first established non-invasive, continuous sampling methods for simultaneously measuring both hormones and behavior in amphibious species. Then, we examined whether interactions between water-borne chemical secretions and conspecific calls affect reproductive behavior and physiology (testosterone and corticosterone) of courting male túngara frogs. Our results demonstrate that conspecific acoustic stimulation alone increases locomotor activity, decreases latency to call, and increases calling behavior but does not alter the amount of hormones excreted. In response to water containing chemical secretions from rivals, but in the absence of calls from other males, males excrete more testosterone. Interestingly, the combined acoustic and chemical stimulus causes a multiplicative increase in both calling behavior and hormonal excretion. Taken together, our results suggest that a multimodal chemical-acoustic stimulus physiologically primes males for aggressive behavior. Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Inc.