Behaviour 2019
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Parasite infection and signaling behavior: A communication network perspective
Ximena Bernal1,2, Ivonne Meuche1, Romina Schares3, Claire Hemingway4, Kimberly Hunter5. 1Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, United States; 2Smithsonian Tropical Research Insitute, Panama, , Panama; 3University of Trier, Trier, , Germany; 4University of Texas, Austin, TX, United States; 5Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD, United States

Vector-borne parasites can have diverse effects on their hosts. While the consequences of this type of parasites are well-known for humans, much less is known about their effect on wildlife. Here we examined the signaling behavior of tungara frogs infected with a vector-borne blood parasite in the wild. In particular, we investigated the mating calls and calling behavior of tungara frogs infected with Trypanosome tungarae. We found that infected males had lower body condition than uninfected ones. Despite this difference in condition, however, infected males had higher calling activity than males that were not infected. Differences in particular call features were also correlated with infection. We further explore the effects of these differences in signaling behavior and signal structure evaluating the responses of female frogs and the main eavesdroppers in this system, frog-eating bats and frog-bitting midges, to the calls produced by infected and uninfected males. This study provides insights about the role of vector-borne parasites in modulating communication systems and highlights the complex way in which signalers are exposed to diverse selective pressures.