Nature Notebook – Frog Call Amplifiers

The trilling noise could be heard throughout the nature center. At first, we thought the screech owls were calling. But, the sound was too loud. Then we recognized the call of the gray treefrog. But, the sound was too loud. Then we saw the frog calling from within his coconut shell abode, a.k.a. a frog call amplifier.

When you are a lone male trying to attract a faraway female, you need to use all the tools you can. Scientists have shown that mating calls that travel farther and are louder seem to be more attractive to the target listeners.

To accomplish this, some species of frogs call from constructed burrows that enhance the distance of the call’s transmission. A male mole cricket’s tunnel is used to amplify his calls. Tree frogs in Borneo use hollow tree cavities for the same purpose. The death-watch beetle bags his head against the roof of his wooden log eating area. A tiny tree cricket uses leaves to fashion a megaphone.

Some animals have learned to use human materials for their amplifiers. Asian male tree frogs use city drains and woodpeckers are famous for drumming on mailboxes and chimney flashing.