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ScienceShot: Working (Too) Hard for Love

22 May 2013 4:15 pm
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Ivonne Meunche

Male strawberry poison frogs (Oophaga pumilio) work hard to woo the opposite sex with constant and intense vocalizations until they find a mate. But a new study indicates that all this effort is for naught. Researchers have found that despite the male's best efforts to impress, females simply mate with the closest frog to them. By choosing a neighbor, females minimize the risk of not mating at all, as receptive females abound and they have only a short time to fertilize their eggs. Although this behavior may seem careless, it is the optimal approach in a system where males are constantly fighting to secure a territory, the team reports this month in Frontiers in Zoology. Females can simply choose the closest frog as, after their fighting, all victorious males with an established territory are of an acceptable standard to mate. Why go further afield, when the guy next door is just as good? The males' elaborate courtship display is still essential, however, to ensure females can hear them. Shy and silent males go dateless.

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