Identity signaling, identity reception, and the evolution of social recognition in a Neotropical frog

James P. Tumulty, Zachary K. Lange, Mark A. Bee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Animals recognize familiar individuals to perform a variety of important social behaviors. Social recognition is often mediated by communication between signalers who produce signals that contain identity information and receivers who categorize these signals based on previous experience. We tested two hypotheses about adaptations in signalers and receivers that enable the evolution of social recognition using two species of closely related territorial poison frogs. Male golden rocket frogs (Anomaloglossus beebei) recognize the advertisement calls of conspecific territory neighbors and display a “dear enemy effect” by responding less aggressively to neighbors than strangers, whereas male Kai rocket frogs (Anomaloglossus kaiei) do not. Our results did not support the identity signaling hypothesis: both species produced advertisement calls that contain similar amounts of identity information. Our results did support the identity reception hypothesis: both species exhibited habituation of aggression to playbacks simulating the arrival of a new neighbor, but only golden rocket frogs showed renewed aggression when they subsequently heard calls from a different male. These results suggest that an ancestral mechanism of plasticity in aggression common among frogs has been modified through natural selection to be specific to calls of individual males in golden rocket frogs, enabling a social recognition system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-170
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank G. Bourne and B. Pettitt for advice and logistical assistance, and M. Basil and T. John for field assistance. The authors thank E. Snell‐Rood, D. Stephens, M. Wilson, and L. Leverett for feedback on previous version of this manuscript. Research was approved under UMN IACUC Protocol #1701‐34456A. Research permits were provided by the Guyana EPA (060214 BR 018 and 040717 BR 004) and permission was granted by the Guyana Protected Areas Commission. Funding was provided by grants from the UMN Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, the UMN Graduate School, the UMN Council of Graduate Students, the Bell Museum of Natural History, the Society for the Study of Evolution, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Science Foundation (DDIG #1601493).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Evolution © 2021 The Society for the Study of Evolution.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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