Dynamic sexual dichromatism in an explosively breeding Neotropical toad

Stéphanie M. Doucet, Daniel J. Mennill


Sexual selection often promotes the evolution of elaborate colour signals in males, but the importance of sexually selected colour signals remains poorly studied in amphibians. We used reflectance spectrometry to document pronounced sexual dichromatism and dramatic colour change in Bufo luetkenii, a toad that breeds in large aggregations at the onset of the rainy season in Costa Rica. Our observations suggest that males fade rapidly from a vibrant lemon yellow to a dull brown once they have paired with a female. We demonstrate this by showing that males are much brighter than females and that unpaired males are more colourful than males in amplexus. We also show that coloration fades rapidly when males are briefly held captive. This is, to our knowledge, the first study to document such dynamic change in male coloration and sexual dichromatism in anurans.


    • Received July 22, 2009.
    • Accepted September 3, 2009.
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