Science and Tech


How A Frog's Mating Call Can Also Attract Predators

The tungara frog's mating call may attract more than potential mates.
Posted at 9:57 AM, Jan 26, 2014

Finding love is never easy, but Central and South America's tungara frog has more to worry about then just a broken heart. 

What you are about to hear is the mating call of the male tungara frog, but while the love song charms potential mates, it may also attract something else — deadly frog-eating bats. (Via YouTube / drawingthemotmot)

In an evolutionary arms race, researchers say the tungara frog's natural predator, the fringe-lipped bat, uses a form of sonar to locate the frogs while they belt their serenades. 

You see, when the tungara frog produces his mating call, it also produces ripples on the surface of the water surrounding him. Using echolocation bats are able to sense these ripples and pinpoint the frog's exact location. (Via Youtube / utexasCNS)

As Smithsonian Magazine explains: The frog's first line of defense is to stop calling when they see the bats flying overhead, but ripples continue for a few more seconds, essentially creating a watery bullseye for the bat strike. 

But the study, which was published this month in the journal Science, notes the frog's aren't without their own strategies to foil the bat's dinner plans. 

Wired explains the study found frogs that kept a messy house — leaves, sticks, and other material in the water around them — were able to disrupt the bat's sonar system since the ripples don't form the same way they would if the water was free of debris. 

In the case of the tungara frog, sometimes love hurts — a lot. As a frog named Kermit once said "it's not easy being green."