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Nature & Environment Female Frogs Look for a Guy Who Can Multitask: 'Singing' Males are More Attractive

Female Frogs Look for a Guy Who Can Multitask: 'Singing' Males are More Attractive

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First Posted: Aug 19, 2013 09:32 AM EDT
Gray Tree Frog
Gray Tree Frog (not newly discovered frog pictured from release.) (Photo : Flickr/USFWS)

What do female frogs look for in a guy? Apparently they want someone who can multitask. It turns out that males that can "sing" in a way that reflects their ability to multitask effectively are far more attractive to the opposite sex.

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In order to see what attracts frogs to the opposite sex, researchers examined gray tree frogs. These frogs are native to much of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. With their varying colors, these creatures are adept at camouflaging themselves depending whether they're sitting on a leaf or a stone.

In this particular study, the scientists listened to the mating calls of male gray tree frogs. Typical calls can range in duration from 20 to 40 pulses per call and occur between 5 to 15 calls per minute. Males face a trade-off between call duration and call rate, which means that various males "sing" differently. By listening to recordings of 1,000 calls, the researchers found that the males that produce relatively longer call rates could only do so at relatively slower rates.

So what do females prefer? It turns out that the frogs like calls that are both longer and more frequent, which is no simple task for the males.

"It's kind of like singing and dancing at the same time," said Jessica Ward, one of the researchers, in a news release.

So what does this mean? Apparently, females prefer males who can do two or more hard-to-do things at the same time. This apparently indicates that these are especially good quality males.

"It's easy to imagine that we humans might also prefer multitasking partners, such as someone who can successfully earn a good income, cook dinner, manage the finances and get the kids to soccer practice on time," said Ward.

The findings reveal exactly what these females look for in a male. In addition, it shows how these frogs select a mate and may also have implications for other species.

The findings are published in the journal Animal Behavior.

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