It’s Not Easy Being Green

Quite OT, but here’s a fascinating insight into what you might have thought was the idyllic existence of the tree frog.

Tree frogs sound like cicadas, and provide a pleasant background to evenings in many warm countries. But the book Evolution and the Theory of Games that I’m currently struggling through paints a grim picture of their lives (page 78):

Perrill, Gerhardt & Daniel (1978) studied calling and satellite males in the green tree frog, Hyla cinerea.

A male may attract females by calling, or may remain silent and attempt to waylay females attracted to a calling male.

In 30 field experiments in which a gravid female was released near a pair of males, one calling and the other silent, the former male achieved amplexus on 17, and the latter on 13 occasions.

Some males employed the satellite strategy from night to night, but others changed strategies, sometimes switching during a single night.

Apparently the calling frog risks being homed in on by predators, hence the lurkers who leave him to do all the work and stalk his sweetheart.

So the pleasant sound comes not from sociable frog converse, but a war zone.

Which reminds us that nature is red, not green, in tooth and claw.


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