Neglecting the call of the wild: Captive frogs like the sound of their own voice
by Luiza Figueiredo Passos, Gerardo Garcia, Robert John YoungAcoustic communication is highly influential in the expression of social behavior by anuran amphibians, transmitting information about the individual’s physical condition and motivation. We studied the phonotactic (approach movements) responses of wild and captive male golden mantella frogs to conspecific wild and captive playback calls to determine the impact of captivity on social behaviour mediated by vocalisations. Calls were recorded from one wild and two captive populations. Phonotaxis experiments were then conducted by attracting M. aurantiaca males across a PVC grid on the forest floor or enclosure floor to a speaker. For each playback, the following parameters were recorded to define the accuracy of phonotaxis: (1) number of jumps; (2) jump angles; (3) jump distances; (4) path straightness. During this experiment we observed that wild frogs had a similar behavioural (phonotaxis) response to calls independent of their source while frogs from Chester Zoo had a significantly stronger response to calls of other conspecifics held separately at Chester Zoo. The lack of appropriate phonotaxis response by captive bred frogs to the calls of wild conspecifics could have serious negative conservation implications, if the captive bred individuals were released back to the wild.
Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article
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