Olivia Feagles, a graduate student in biological sciences, collects frogs from the pond at the UWM Field Station near Saukville. She is using these to determine how choosy females are when it comes to a male call that they are attracted to. (UWM Photo Services/Elora Hennessey)
The students caught a record number of frogs this year and are using them to run more than 1,000 trials in the lab’s frog arena. (UWM Photo Services/Elora Hennessey)
The chosen male frog jumps on the female’s back and she carries him to the pond to mate. Females often drive sexual selection, a preference by one sex for certain characteristics in those of the other sex – and that influences evolution in a species. (Photo courtesy of the Höbel lab)
Associate professor Gerlinde Höbel loads a female into the center “pod” of the arena in preparation for a mating-call experiment. They are tracking what features of male calls the females prefer. “Female frogs hopping though the arena toward a ‘male hiding in a speaker’ is super cute,” she said. (Photo courtesy of the Höbel lab)
Researchers, including doctoral students Olivia Feagles (from left, holding an amphibian friend) and Kane Stratman join associate professor Gerlinde Höbel inside their "frog arena." (UWM Photo/Troye Fox)
A closer look at an eastern gray tree frog (UWM Photo/Troye Fox)
Studying the mating behavior of eastern gray tree frogs in the wild can be very difficult. At any given time, hundreds of frogs may be singing their love call in various pitches and tones over many hours. Discerning which frogs are doing what can be nearly impossible.
So, researchers at UWM built their own “frog arena.” That allows them to control most aspects of the situation, giving them clear information what calls the female frog finds most attractive.