Female tree frogs are quite demanding of their prospective mates

Researchers discover female frogs are attracted to males that can multitask

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"I'm supposed to stand up here, catch an insect, and sing? Is this a joke?

Image credit: Flickr/Dr DAD (Daniel A D'Auria MD)


It's hard out there for a male frog that's simply trying to impress the ladies.

That's the conclusion of a newly published study from the University of Minnesota, where researchers analyzed male mating calls and determined that "females prefer males whose calls reflect the ability to multitask effectively."

The research team recorded and analyzed 1,000 male gray tree frog mating calls, measuring both call rate and duration.

"Typical calls can range in duration from 20-40 pulses per call and occur between 5-15 calls per minute," the university said in a press release. "Males face a trade-off between call duration and call rate, but females preferred calls that are longer and more frequent, which is no simple task."

Jessica Ward, a postdoctoral researcher who is lead author for the study, explained it this way: "It's kind of like singing and dancing at the same time."

Which, let's face it, is a lot to ask of a tree frog.

Researchers say the study supported their hypothesis, "which suggests that females prefer males who can do two or more hard-to-do things at the same time because these are especially good quality males," the university said.

"It's easy to imagine that we humans might also prefer multitasking partners, such as someone who can successfully earn a good income, cook dinner, manage the finances and get the kids to soccer practice on time," said Ward.

And catch flies. Let's not leave that out.

Results of the study were published in Animal Behavior.

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