Covariation among multimodal components in the túngara frog's courtship display.
Communication systems often include a variety of components, including those that span modalities, which may facilitate detection and decision-making. For example, female tungara frogs and fringe-lipped bats generally rely on acoustic mating signals to find male tungara frogs in a mating or foraging context, respectively. However, two additional cues (vocal sac inflation and water ripples) can enhance detection and choice behavior. To date, we do not know the natural variation and covariation of these three components. To address this, we made detailed recordings of calling males, including call amplitude, vocal sac volume, and water ripple height, in 54 frogs (2430 calls). We found that all three measures correlated, with the strongest association between the vocal sac volume and call amplitude. We also found that multimodal models predicted the calling males' mass better than unimodal models. These results demonstrate how multimodal components of a communication system relate to each other and provide an important foundation for future studies on how receivers integrate and compare complex displays.