Sexual hearing: The influence of sex hormones on acoustic communication in frogs

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Abstract

The majority of anuran amphibians (frogs and toads) use acoustic communication to mediate sexual behavior and reproduction. Generally, females find and select their mates using acoustic cues provided by males in the form of conspicuous advertisement calls. In these species, vocal signal production and reception are intimately tied to successful reproduction. Research with anurans has demonstrated that acoustic communication is modulated by reproductive hormones, including gonadal steroids and peptide neuromodulators. Most of these studies have focused on the ways in which hormonal systems influence vocal signal production; however, here we will concentrate on a growing body of literature that examines hormonal modulation of call reception. This literature suggests that reproductive hormones contribute to the coordination of reproductive behaviors between signaler and receiver by modulating sensitivity and spectral filtering of the anuran auditory system. It has become evident that the hormonal systems that influence reproductive behaviors are highly conserved among vertebrate taxa. Thus, studying the endocrine and neuromodulatory bases of acoustic communication in frogs and toads can lead to insights of broader applicability to hormonal modulation of vertebrate sensory physiology and behavior.

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