A unique mating strategy without physical contact during fertilization in Bombay Night Frogs (Nyctibatrachus humayuni) with the description of a new form of amplexus and female call

Bert Willaert, Robin Suyesh, Sonali Garg, Varad B. Giri, Mark A. Bee, S. D. Biju

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Anurans show the highest diversity in reproductive modes of all vertebrate taxa, with a variety of associated breeding behaviours. One striking feature of anuran reproduction is amplexus. During this process, in which the male clasps the female, both individuals' cloacae are juxtaposed to ensure successful external fertilization. Several types of amplexus have evolved with the diversification of anurans, and secondary loss of amplexus has been reported in a few distantly related taxa. Within Nyctibatrachus, a genus endemic to the Western Ghats of India, normal axillary amplexus, a complete loss of amplexus, and intermediate forms of amplexus have all been suggested to occur, but many species remain unstudied. Here, we describe the reproductive behaviour of N. humayuni, including a new type of amplexus. The dorsal straddle, here defined as a loose form of contact in which the male sits on the dorsum of the female prior to oviposition but without clasping her, is previously unreported for anurans. When compared to known amplexus types, it most closely resembles the form of amplexus observed in Mantellinae. Furthermore, we prove that, opposed to the situation in most anurans, male semen release happens before egg deposition. We hypothesize that the male ejaculates on the female's dorsum and that sperm subsequently runs from her back and hind legs before fertilizing the eggs. A second feature characterizing anuran breeding is the advertisement call, mostly produced solely by males. Despite recent descriptions of several new Nyctibatrachus species, few studies have explored their vocal repertoire. We describe both the male advertisement call and a female call for N. humayuni. The presence of a female call has not been reported within Nyctibatrachidae, and has been reported in less than 0.5% of anuran species. Altogether, our results highlight a striking diversity and several unique aspects of Nyctibatrachus breeding behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2117
JournalPeerJ
Volume2016
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was partially supported by the following grants to SDB: CEPF 'Project 55918/2009, ' USA; University of Delhi Research and Development Grants '2011/423' and '2015/9677'; DST Purse Phase II Grant 2015, Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. BW was funded by Prof. Franky Bossuyt, Amphibian Evolution Lab (Vrije Universiteit Brussel). MAB was funded by a Fulbright-Nehru Award. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Keywords

  • Advertisement call
  • Amphibians
  • Amplexus
  • Bioacoustics
  • Breeding behaviour
  • Egg attendance
  • Egg predation
  • Nyctibatrachidae
  • Reproductive modes
  • Western Ghats

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