Behaviour 2019
­Woe is the loner: female frogs prefer to have options even if it means rejecting a “hotshot”
Kane Stratman, Emma Oldehoeft, Gerlinde Hoebel. University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, MILWAUKEE, WI, United States

Lekking is a puzzling phenomenon, as it is not obvious why signalers or choosers aggregate. Some hypothesize that signalers enjoy higher reproductive success because choosers prefer to sample among dense, easily compared configurations. While female preferences and male signal features are well characterized, we know little about how mate sampling is influenced by the spatial dynamics within communal displays. We explored i) whether females exhibit a preference for clusters, ii) whether spatial preference is robust to call-feature preference, and iii) how this affects the success of attractive and unattractive males in different spatial combinations. Females rejected lone callers but did show fine-scale assessment of call features within clusters. The spatial preference impacts the attractiveness of males, conferring particular advantage to attractive callers within clusters, while reducing attractiveness of isolated males regardless of their acoustic features. Our findings indicate that female frogs navigate choruses by initially orientating toward aggregates, and then assess call-features within them. This study provides insight into the heuristics involved in animal choruses.