Alternative mating tactics in the Italian treefrog,Hyla intermedia

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As in many lekking anurans, Italian treefrog males use two mating tactics: they can attract females by calling vigorously or be satellites, that is, they can remain silent in proximity of a calling male and try to intercept females attracted by their neighbour. We investigated the factors that affected the expression of this mating tactic. Consistent with the conditional mating tactic hypothesis, satellites were smaller than average and smaller than their parasitised calling males. They spent a larger-than-average number of nights at the breeding site, where most of them were also observed calling. Moreover, satellites showed lower call rates and lower mating success than those of males they parasitise but not lower than those of males they did not parasitise. Overall, these results, together with those derived from the analyses of the seasonal and spatial distribution of males, provide evidence for a non-random association between satellites and calling males and are consistent with the hypothesis that satellites have spectral and temporal acoustic preferences that parallel those of females. By adopting the less-successful satellite mating tactic, competitively inferior males can nevertheless maximise their potential reproductive fitness by sexually parasitising the most attractive chorusing males.

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