Sex–biased predation by polecats influences the mating system of frogs

Thierry Lodé, Marie–Jeanne Holveck, David Lesbarrères, Alain Pagano

Abstract

In agile frogs, Rana dalmatina, an increase in male–biased operational sex ratio and in male abundance results in the emergence of alternative male mating behaviour in the form of searching. As a consequence, females are coerced into mating with multiple males, which in turn increases the level of conflict between the sexes. Selective predation on males by the European polecat, Mustela putorius, decreases the occurrence of polyandry. In ponds visited by polecats, the sex ratio is less male biased than in ponds where polecats are absent. As a result most males call to attract females and fewer males actively search for females. Females are able to choose between calling males and mate with a single male. Thus, predation by polecats is found to influence sex ratio, male abundance and sexual conflict in a frog mating system, restricting the opportunity for multiple mating.

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