Individual voice recognition in a territorial frog (Rana catesbeiana)

Mark A. Bee, H. Carl Gerhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Some territorial animals display low levels of aggression towards a familiar territorial neighbour in its usual territory, but exhibit high levels of aggression towards neighbours in novel locations and unfamiliar individuals. Here, we report results from a field playback study that investigated whether territorial males of the North American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) could discriminate between the acoustic signals of simulated neighbours and strangers in the absence of contextual cues associated with a specific location. Following repeated exposures to synthetic bullfrog calls from a particular location, subjects responded significantly less aggressively to a familiar call, compared with an unfamiliar one, when both calls were broadcast from familiar and novel locations, indicating that bullfrogs could recognize a neighbour's calls independently of the contextual cues provided by the direction of the neighbour's territory. Subjects responded equally aggressively to unfamiliar calls broadcast from either a familiar or a novel location, which indicates that they could perceive unfamiliar calls as those of a stranger, regardless of where the stranger was encountered. Together, these two results provide evidence that a frog possesses a capacity for individual voice recognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1443-1448
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1499
StatePublished - Jul 22 2002


  • Acoustic communication
  • Individual recognition
  • Neighbour recognition
  • Rana catesbeiana
  • Territoriality
  • Voice recognition


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