Research topics

Evolution of parental care

Sexual selection

Reproductive ecology

Kin recognition and inclusive fitness

Mate choice

Aposematism and mimicry



Chytridiomycosis in Peru






Visual mate choice

Anuran amphibians have played a central role in research on mating strategies and mate choice (Ryan 1994). This research has all concerned mate choice for acoustical cues.  It has remained an open question whether visual cues, which play a large role in mate choice in fish and birds, are used for mate choice in any species of frog.  Recently, my students and I, in collaboration with Dr. Thomas Cronin at UMBC, have obtained evidence for mate choice on the basis of visual cues in a poison frog (Dendrobates pumilio, family Dendrobatidae) from the Bocas del Toro Archipelago in Panama, Central America.  We investigated female mate choice on the basis of visual cues in two populations of Dendrobates pumilio.  Mate choice experiments were carried out by presenting subject females of each of two morphs of this species (orange and green) from two different island populations (Nancy Key and Pope Island) with object frogs (one of each morph) under glass at one end of a terrarium.  Recorded calls were played simultaneously from behind both object frogs.  The experiments were carried out under two light regimes: 1) white light and 2) relatively monochromatic filtered blue light.  Subject females from each population displayed a significant preference for their own morph under white light, but not under blue light.  These results indicate that female D. pumilio use visual cues in mate choice, and suggest that color may be the visual cue they use.