This week we welcome our own Ying Chen.
Divergence in the mate recognition system is the foundation of biological speciation in anurans. Ecological and sexual selection have been suggested as major causes of male call evolution. It is generally assumed that a significant fraction of variation in male advertisement call has an underlying genetic basis and that there is a link between key call attributes and fitness, yet these remain key, largely unproved assertions regarding call evolution, and many factors contribute to diversity of calls within a male chorus. Anurans advertisement calls are important in studies of behavior, sexual selection, speciation, and phenology. In all of these, understanding, heritability is prerequisite to understanding evolutionary patterns and potential responses to selection. However, very few studies have quantified heritability of advertisement calls in wild populations of anurans, nor incorporate all factors know to influence call variation. In this study, I try to estimate the heritability of anuran call attributes within a calling assemblage of a temperate treefrog, Pseudacris crucifer, and quantify the relative contributions of different factors: body size, age, calling temperature, and genetics. I use sonographic analysis to assess call variation, skeletochronology to estimate age, and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) markers to estimate the relatedness of calling males. I use the animal model to evaluate all factors that may affect calls. By simultaneously investigating the genetic basis of advertisement call attributes as well as the effects of environmental factors, we will gain a better understanding of call evolution and the potential for selection to drive divergence.