Lixia ZHANG,Xiangyu YUAN,Yongsun SHENG,et al.No Male Preference for Large Females in the Asian Common Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus): Effect of the Sex Ratio and Breeding System[J].Asian Herpetological Research(AHR),2020,11(4):328-334.[doi:10.16373/j.cnki.ahr.200032]
Click Copy

No Male Preference for Large Females in the Asian Common Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus): Effect of the Sex Ratio and Breeding System
Share To:

Asian Herpetological Research[ISSN:2095-0357/CN:51-1735/Q]

2020 VoI.11 No.4
Research Field:
Publishing date:


No Male Preference for Large Females in the Asian Common Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus): Effect of the Sex Ratio and Breeding System
Lixia ZHANG1 Xiangyu YUAN1 Yongsun SHENG1 Xueting ZHONG2 Jiahong LIAO3 Zhenhao LIU3 and Wei CHEN3*
1 Department of Ecology, College of Life Sciences, Henan Normal University, Xinxiang 453007, Henan, China
2 Key Laboratory of Vector Biology and Pathogen Control of Zhejiang Province, College of Life Sciences, Huzhou University, Huzhou 313000, Zhejiang, China
Ecological Security and Protection Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province, Mianyang Normal University, Mianyang 621000, Sichuan, China
Asian common toad chorus attendance Duttaphrynus melanostictus male mating preference parental care sex ratio
Mating preferences are common in natural populations of animals. Numerous studies have shown that male mate choice can occur in a wide range of taxa. However, male mating preferences are still poorly understood in anurans. Sexual selection theory predicts that male mate choice is not expected to arise if 1) adult population exhibited a highly male-biased sex ratio which will diminish male mating success; 2) males provide less parental care; 3) mating success of males is associated with chorus tenure in which males would maximize their fitness by mating with multiple mates. We tested these predictions in the Asian common toad Duttaphrynus melanostictus from southeastern Tibet, China. Our field experimental results indicated that, the breeding population exhibited a highly male-biased sex ratio, called males did not defend sites which contain significant resources required by females and offspring, both sexes provided no parental care after egg-laying, and the toad species was characterized with prolonged breeding season chorus attendance. In male mate choice experiment, males did not show preferences for a larger gravid female over a smaller gravid female. We suggest that male mating success in the Asian common toad is likely determined by the number but not the quality of mates. Future research should focus on how sexual selection on male acoustic signaling and how female preference exert different types of selection pressure on male call traits in this Tibet toad.


Agrillo C., Dadda M., Serena G. 2008. Choice of female groups by male mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki). Ethology, 114: 479–488
Amundsen T. 2000. Why are female birds ornamented? Trends Ecol Evol, 15: 149–155
Amundsen T., Forsgren E. 2001. Male mate choice selects for female coloration in a fish. P Natl Acad Sci USA, 98: 13155–13160
Amundsen T., Forsgren E. 2003. Male preference for colourful females affected by male size in a marine fish. Behav Ecol Sociobiol, 54: 55–64
Amundsen T., Forsgren E., Hansen L. T. 1997. On the function of female ornaments: Male bluethroats prefer colourful females. P Roy Soc Lond B Bio, 264: 1579–1586
Andersson M. 1994. Sexual selection. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
Apostolou M. 2017a. Parent-offspring conflict over mating. In: Sexual selection in Homo sapiens: Parental control over mating and the opportunity cost of free mate choice. Apostolou M. (ed). pp. 19–32. Springer International Publishing AG, Cham, Switzerland.
Apostolou M. 2017b. The nature of parent-offspring conflict over mating: From differences in genetic relatedness to disagreement over mate choice. Evol Psychol Sci, 3: 62–71
Balshine-Earn S., Earn D. J. D. 1998. On the evolutionary pathway of parental care in mouth-brooding cichlid fish, Proc R Soc Lond Ser B-Biol Sci, 265: 2217–2222
Bastos R. P., Haddad C. F. B. 1996. Breeding activity of the neotropical treefrog Hyla elegans (Anura, Hylidae). J Herpetol, 30: 355–360
Berglund A. 1994. The operational sex ratio influences choosiness in a pipefish. Behav Ecol, 5: 254–258
Berglund A. 1995. Many mates make male pipefish choosy. Behaviour, 132: 213–218
Bonduriansky R. 2001. The evolution of male mate choice in insects: A synthesis of ideas and evidence. Biol Rev, 76: 305–339
Bosch J., Marquez R. 2005. Female preference intensities on different call characteristics and symmetry of preference above and below the mean in the Iberian midwife toad Alytes cisternasii. Ethology, 111: 323–333
Botto V., Castellano S. 2016. Attendance, but not performance, predicts good genes in a lek-breeding treefrog. Behav Ecol, 2016, 27: 1141–1148
Bourne G. R. 1992. Lekking behavior in the neotropical frog Ololygon rubra. Behav Ecol Sociobiol, 31: 173–180
Bourne G. R. 1993. Proximate costs and benefits of mate acquisition at leks of the frog Ololygon rubra. Anim Behav, 45: 1051–1059
Burke E. J., Murphy C. G. 2007. How female barking treefrogs, Hyla gratiosa, use multiple call characteristics to select a mate. Anim Behav, 74: 1463–1472
Byrne P. G., Rice W. R. 2006. Evidence for adaptive male mate choice in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. P Roy Soc Lond B Bio, 273: 917–922
Cayuela H., Lengagne T., Joly P., Léna J. P. 2017. Females trade off the uncertainty of breeding resource suitability with male quality during mate choice in an anuran. Anim Behav, 123: 179–185
Charpentier M. J., Crawford J. C., Boulet M., Drea C. M. 2010. Message ‘scent’: Lemurs detect the genetic relatedness and quality of conspecifics via olfactory cues. Anim Behav, 80: 101–108
Chenoweth S. F., Blows M. W. 2003. Signal trait sexual dimorphism and mutual sexual selection in Drosophila serrata. Evolution, 57: 2326–2334
Chenoweth S. F., Petfield D., Doughty P., Blows M. W. 2007. Male choice generates stabilizing sexual selection on a female fecundity correlate. J Evolution Biol, 20: 1745–1750
Clutton-Brock T. H., Vincent A. C. J. 1991. Sexual selection and the potential reproductive rates of males and females. Nature, 351: 58–60
Davies N. B., Halliday T. R. 1977. Optimal mate selection in the toad Bufo bufo. Nature, 269: 56–58
Eberhard W. G. 1996. Female control: Sexual selection by cryptic female choice. Princeton University Press, Princeton
Edward D. A., Chapman T. 2011. The evolution and significance of male mate choice. Trends Ecol Evol, 26: 647–654
Emlen S. T., Oring L. W. 1977. Ecology, sexual selection, and the evolution of mating systems. Science, 197: 215–223
Fan X., Lin Z., Ji X. 2013. Male size does not correlate with fertilization success in two bufonid toads that show size-assortative mating. Curr Zool, 59: 740–746
Fei L., Ye C., Jiang J. 2012. Colored atlas of Chinese amphibians and their distributions. Sichuan Science and Technology Press, Chengdu.
Fitzpatrick C. L., Altmann J., Alberts S. C. 2014. Sources of variance in a female fertility signal: Exaggerated estrous swellings in a natural population of baboons. Behav Ecol Sociobiol, 68: 1109–1122
Friedl T. W. P., Klump G. M. 2005. Sexual selection in the lek-breeding European treefrog: Body size, chorus attendance, random mating and good genes. Anim Behav, 70: 1141–1154
Gibbons M. M., McCarthy T. K. 1986. The reproductive output of frogs Rana temporaria (L.) with particular reference to body size and age. J Zool, 209: 579–593
Gillingham M. A., Richardson D. S., L?vlie H., Moynihan A., Worley K., Pizzari T. 2009. Cryptic preference for MHC-dissimilar females in male red junglefowl, Gallus gallus. P Roy Soc B-Biol Sci, 276: 1083–1092
Gramapurohit N. P., Radder R. S. 2012. Mating pattern, spawning behavior, and sexual size dimorphism in the tropical toad Bufo melanostictus (Schn.). J Herpetol, 46: 412–416
Han X., Fu J. 2013. Does life history shape sexual size dimorphism in anurans? A comparative analysis. BMC Evol Biol, 13: 27
Hettyey A., T?r?k J., Hévizi G. 2005. Male mate choice lacking in the agile frog, Rana dalmatina. Copeia, 2005: 403–408
Hou L., Zhou Y. Z. Ren Y. H. 2017. Perception of climate change of the residents at various elevations in the Zayu river valley in Southeast Tibet. J Ecol Rural Envir, 33: 491–498
Jaworski K. E., Lattanzio M. S., Hickerson C. A. M., Anthony C. D. 2018. Male mate preference as an agent of fecundity selection in a polymorphic salamander. Ecol Evol, 8: 8750–8760
Jirotkul M. 1999. Operational sex ratio influences female preference and male–male competition in guppies. Anim Behav, 58: 287–294
Jones I. L., Hunter F. M. 1993. Mutual sexual selection in a monogamous seabird. Nature, 362: 238–239
Kirkpatrick M., Ryan M. J. 1991. The evolution of mating preferences and the paradox of the lek. Nature, 350: 33–38
Kodric-Brown A. 1989. Dietary carotenoids and male mating success in the guppy: An environmental component to female choice. Behav Ecol Sociobiol, 25: 393–401
Kvarnemo C., Ahnesjo I. 1996. The dynamics of operational sex ratios and competition for mates. Trends Ecol Evol, 11: 404–408
Kvarnemo C., Simmons L. W. 1999. Variance in female quality, operational sex ratio and male mate choice in a bushcricket. Behav Ecol Sociobiol, 45: 245–252
LeBas N. R., Hockham L. R, Ritchie M. G. 2003. Nonlinear and correlational sexual selection on ‘honest’ female ornamentation. P Roy Soc Lond B Biol, 270: 2159–2165
Li D. H. 2014. A brief analysis of climate change in Chayu City in recent 32 years. J Sci tech Tibet, 1: 44–46
Liao W., Lu X. 2009. Male mate choice in the Andrew’s toad Bufo andrewsi: A preference for larger females. J Ethol, 27: 413–417
Ma X., Zhao L., Lu X., Liao W. 2015. Female-biased sexual size dimorphism is driven by phenotypic selection on females in the Omei treefrog. Herpetol J, 25: 123–126
Mank J. E. 2007. The evolution of sexually selected traits and antagonistic androgen expression in Actinopterygiian fishes. Am Nat, 169: 142–149
Marco A., Kiesecker J. M., Chivers D. P., Blaustein A. R. 1998. Sex recognition and mate choice by male western toads, Bufo boreas. Anim Behav, 55: 1631–1635
Marquez R., Tejedo M. 1990. Size-based mating pattern in the tree frog Hyla arborea. Herpetologica, 46: 176–182
M?ller A. P., Birkhead T. R. 1993. Certainty of paternity covaries with paternal care in birds. Behav Ecol Sociobiol, 1993, 33: 261–268
Monroe M. J., South S. H., Alonzo S. H. 2015. The evolution of fecundity is associated with female body size but not female-biased sexual size dimorphism among frogs. J Evol Biol, 28: 1793–1803
Nali R. C., Zamudio K. R., Haddad C. F. B., Prado C. P. A. 2014. Size-dependent selective mechanisms on males and females and the evolution of sexual size dimorphism in frogs. Am Nat, 184: 727–740
Nandy B., Joshi A., Ali Z. S., Sen S., Prasad N. G. 2012. Degree of adaptive male mate choice is positively correlated with female quality variance. Sci Rep-UK, 2: 447
Olsson M. 1993. Male preference for large females and assortative mating for body size in the sand lizard (Lacerta agilis). Behav Ecol Sociobiol, 32: 337–341
Pettitt B. A., Bourne G. R., Bee M. A. 2020. Females prefer the calls of better fathers in a Neotropical frog with biparental care. Behav Ecol, 2: 152–163
Petersdorf M., Higham J. P. 2016. Mating systems. The International Encyclopedia of Primatology, 1–5
Preston B. T., Stevenson I. R., Pemberton J. M., Coltman D. W., Wilson K. 2005. Male mate choice influences female promiscuity in Soay sheep. P Roy Soc B-Biol Sci, 272: 365–373
Richardson C., Joly P., Lena J. P., Plenet S., Lengagne T. 2010. The challenge of finding a high-quality male: A treefrog solution based on female assessment of male calls. Behaviour, 147: 1737–1752
Robertson J. G. M. 1990. Female choice increases fertilization success in the Australian frog, Uperoleia laevigata. Anim Behav, 39: 639–645
Ryan M. J. 1983. Sexual selection and communication in a neotropical frog, Physalaemus pustulosus. Evolution, 37: 261–272
Sih A., Chang A. T., Wey T. W. 2014. Effects of behavioural type, social skill and the social environment on male mating success in water striders. Anim Behav, 94: 9–17
Szykman M., Engh A. L., van Horn R. C., Funk S. M., Scribner K. T., Holekamp K. E. 2001. Association patterns among male and female spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) reflect male mate choice. Behav Ecol Sociobiol, 50: 231–238
Tigreros N., Mowery M. A., Lewis S. M. 2014. Male mate choice favors more colorful females in the gift-giving cabbage butterfly. Behav Ecol Sociobiol, 68: 1539–1547
Trivers R. L. 1972. Parental investment and sexual selection. In: Sexual selection and the descent of man. Campbell B (ed). pp. 136–179. Aldine, Chicago
Wei L., Zhao L., Ma X., Fan X., Ma X., Lin Z. 2012. Advertisement call variability in the black-spined toad Bufo melanostictus (Anura: Bufonidae) during the breeding season in Lishui, Zhejiang, China. Asian Herpetol Res, 3: 157–162
Weir L. K., Grant J. W. A., Hutchings J. A. 2011. The influence of operational sex ratio on the intensity of competition for mates. Am Nat, 177: 167–176
Weiss S. L. 2002. Reproductive signals of female lizards: pattern of trait expression and male response. Ethology, 108: 793–813
Wells K. D. 1977. The social behaviour of anuran amphibians. Anim Behav, 25: 666–693
Wells K. D. 2007. The ecology and behavior of amphibians. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Williams G. C. 1975. Sex and evolution. Princeton University Press, Princeton
Yu T., Lu X. 2010. Sex recognition and mate choice lacking in male Asiatic toads (Bufo gargarizans). Ital J Zool, 77: 476–480
Yu T., Lu X. 2013. Lack of male mate choice in the Minshan’s toad (Bufo gargarizans minshanicus). North-West J Zool, 9: 121–126
Yu T., Sharma M. D. 2012. Sex recognition and mate choice by male Bufo gargarizans in central China. Zool Sci, 29: 347–350


Last Update: 2020-12-25