Aspects of the breeding behaviour of Queckett's river frog (Amietia quecketti)
Acoustic communication in anurans plays a critical role in species recognition, defending territories and resources, and finding a mate. Anurans use a number of different call note types to communicate, from which the most notable are advertisement- and aggression calls. Optimum weather conditions are a precursor to the commencement of the breeding season for all frog species and their calling behaviour is therefore readily influenced by atmospheric conditions. Male frogs within a chorus also tend to call from territories within a specific range of distances from one another. The objectives of this study were to 1) determine a possible context in which call note types are produced, 2) to determine the effect of atmospheric conditions on calling behaviour and 3) to determine the spacing distances between males and females in a chorus of Queckett’s River Frog (Amietia quecketti). Pre-recorded note types were used in a playback experiment to determine a context for elicited responses. A context was derived for six of the responses. Advertisement (clicks and whines), aggression (creaks), encounter (tonal notes), territorial (whine-tonal notes), and release calls (squeaks) were described. Calls and atmospheric conditions were recorded and correlated for an entire breeding season. Water temperature, wind speed, humidity and barometric pressure had a significant effect on calling intensity. As water temperature decreased calling intensity increased, while increased wind temperature led to increased calling intensity. Amietia quecketti calls from the water, explaining the effect while increased wind speed decreases water temperature and can carry sound further. Both humidity and barometric pressure showed increased calling intensity only at specific levels. Humidity and barometric pressure have a direct effect on one another, which most likely causes the correlation between calling intensity and both these variables. In this study A. quecketti was shown to have breeding ponds for males and resting ponds and positions for non-gravid females. This prevents unwanted or unnecessary amplexus. Males showed much smaller and less variable territory sizes than females. This is most likely because males have a small range of optimal spacing distance while females move towards and away from males. The presence of vegetation resulted in smaller territories. This is possibly because smaller males act as satellite males and cannot be seen by larger males in vegetation. The size of males did not affect territory size. Males have a specific inter-male spacing distance regardless of size.