New paper in PeerJ


Reproductive behavior drives female space use in a sedentary Neotropical frog.

Fischer MT, Ringler M, Ringler E & Pašukonis A.
PeerJ 8:e8920 


Longer-range movements of anuran amphibians such as mass migrations and habitat invasion have received a lot of attention, but fine-scale spatial behavior remains largely understudied. This gap is especially striking for species that show long-term site fidelity and display their whole behavioral repertoire in a small area. Studying fine-scale movement with conventional capture-mark-recapture techniques is difficult in inconspicuous amphibians: individuals are hard to find, repeated captures might affect their behavior and the number of data points is too low to allow a detailed interpretation of individual space use and time budgeting. In this study, we overcame these limitations by equipping females of the Brilliant-Thighed Poison Frog (Allobates femoralis) with a tag allowing frequent monitoring of their location and behavior. Neotropical poison frogs are well known for their complex behavior and diverse reproductive and parental care strategies. Although the ecology and behavior of the polygamous leaf-litter frog Allobates femoralis is well studied, little is known about the fine-scale space use of the non-territorial females who do not engage in acoustic and visual displays. We tracked 17 females for 6 to 17 days using a harmonic direction finder to provide the first precise analysis of female space use in this species. Females moved on average 1 m per hour and the fastest movement, over 20 m per hour, was related to a subsequent mating event. Traveled distances and activity patterns on days of courtship and mating differed considerably from days without reproduction. Frogs moved more on days with lower temperature and more precipitation, but mating seemed to be the main trigger for female movement. We observed 21 courtships of 12 tagged females. For seven females, we observed two consecutive mating events. Estimated home ranges after 14 days varied considerably between individuals and courtship and mating associated space use made up for ∼30% of the home range. Allobates femoralis females spent large parts of their time in one to three small centers of use. Females did not adjust their time or space use to the density of males in their surroundings and did not show wide-ranging exploratory behavior. Our study demonstrates how tracking combined with detailed behavioral observations can reveal the patterns and drivers of fine-scale spatial behavior in sedentary species.

© Andrius Pašukonis