Non-reproductive male cane toads (Rhinella marina) withhold sex-identifying information from their rivals

Crystal Kelehear, Richard Shine*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    A male cane toad (Rhinella marina) that mistakenly clasps another male (rather than a female) in a sexual embrace (amplexus) can be induced to dismount by a male-specific 'release call'. Although that sex-identifying system can benefit both males in that interaction, our standardized tests showed that one-third of male cane toads did not emit release calls when grasped. Most of those silent males were small, had small testes relative to body mass, and had poorly developed secondary sexual characteristics. If emitting a release call is costly (e.g. by attracting predators), a non-reproductive male may benefit by remaining silent; other cues (such as skin rugosity) will soon induce the amplexing male to dismount, and the 'opportunity cost' to being amplexed (inability to search for and clasp a female) is minimal for non-reproductive males. Hence, male toads may inform other males about their sexual identity only when it is beneficial to do so.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number20190462
    Pages (from-to)1-5
    Number of pages5
    JournalBiology Letters
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2019


    • Amphibia
    • Anura
    • Bufo marinus
    • Female mimicry
    • Mating system
    • Sexual selection


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