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Female Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs Mate Only with Males Closest to Them

In a species of strawberry poison dart frogs in Costa Rica, females mate only with male frogs that are closest to them and they seem not care about other things.

What type of males is most attractive for females? Perhaps shape and territory are aspects to consider, but female frogs seem to be fond of constant and intense vocalizations – a lot of data reveals that vocalization is the only standard when females choose their partners. However, for a species of strawberry poison dart frogs (Oophaga pumilio) work hard to woo the opposite sex with intense vocalizations, whereas the females refuse to buy it.

A research team at University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover investigated the strawberry poison dart frogs in Hitoy Cerere Biological Reserve, Costa Rica and recorded the mating behaviors of female frogs. Surprisingly, they found that despite the male’s best efforts to impress, females simply mate with the males closest to them, regardless of their vocalization.

The egg death rate of strawberry poison dart frog is pretty high and females usually have only a short time to fertilize their eggs. Therefore, it might not be the optimal strategy to choose from many potential candidates because this is time-consuming; instead, by choosing a neighbor, females minimize their risk of not mating at all. However, researchers added: different species of strawberry poison dart frogs have quite different sex ratio, color, poisonousness as well as eating patterns, and there different characteristic might have great influence on females’ mating strategy. Researchers would like to continue the study so there is chance to find different mating strategy from various populations.

 Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs

An image showing different species of strawberry poison dart frogs. *Image source: Abel Batista & Gunther Köhler
,Salamandra 44(4): 225-234

Of course, this doesn’t mean that there is no room for males to improve themselves. Researchers found that the males of this specific species would try hard to occupy a territory which has a high female distribution, so given a small territory, they still have more opportunities to mate since there are more females close to him. And the vocalization is one way to claim territory – perhaps, this is one of the important reasons why there less-than-two-centimeter-long creatures can have such constant and intense vocalization.

Source: Science

Image source: Abel Batista & Gunther Köhler,Salamandra 44(4): 225-234.