Contrasting parental roles shape sex differences in poison frog space use but not navigational performance.
Sex differences in vertebrate spatial abilities are typically interpreted under the adaptive specialization hypothesis, which posits that male reproductive success is linked to larger home ranges and better navigational skills. The androgen spillover hypothesis counters that enhanced male spatial performance may be a byproduct of higher androgen levels. Animal groups that include species where females are expected to outperform males based on life-history traits are key for disentangling these hypotheses. We investigated the association between sex differences in reproductive strategies, spatial behavior, and androgen levels in three species of poison frogs. We tracked individuals in natural environments to show that contrasting parental sex roles shape sex differences in space use, where the sex performing parental duties shows wider-ranging movements. We then translocated frogs from their home areas to test their navigational performance and found that the caring sex outperformed the non-caring sex only in one out of three species. In addition, males across species displayed more explorative behavior than females and androgen levels correlated with explorative behavior and homing accuracy. Overall, we reveal that poison frog reproductive strategies shape movement patterns but not necessarily navigational performance. Together this work suggests that prevailing adaptive hypotheses provide an incomplete explanation of sex differences in spatial abilities.
View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.80483
View details for PubMedID 36377473
Long distance homing in the cane toad (Rhinella marina) in its native range.
The Journal of experimental biology
Many animals exhibit complex navigation over different scales and environments. Navigation studies in amphibians have largely focused on species with life histories that require accurate spatial movements, such as territorial poison frogs and migratory pond-breeding amphibians that show fidelity to mating sites. However, other amphibian species have remained relatively understudied, leaving open the possibility that well-developed navigational abilities are widespread. Here, we measured short-term space use in non-territorial, non-migratory cane toads (Rhinella marina) in their native range in French Guiana. After establishing site fidelity, we tested their ability to return home following translocations of 500 and 1000 meters. Toads were able to travel in straight trajectories back to home areas, suggesting navigational abilities similar to those observed in amphibians with more complex spatial behavior. These observations break with the current paradigm of amphibian navigation and suggest that navigational abilities may be widely shared among amphibians.
View details for DOI 10.1242/jeb.243048
View details for PubMedID 34940881