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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 680632, 10 pages
Review Article

Development of Communication Behaviour: Receiver Ontogeny in Túngara Frogs and a Prospectus for a Behavioural Evolutionary Development

1Section of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA
2Department of Migration and Immunoecology, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, 78315 Radolfzell, Germany
3Department of Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
4Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, P.O. Box 0843-03092, Balboa Ancón, Panama

Received 16 October 2011; Accepted 4 January 2012

Academic Editor: Randall Bruce Widelitz

Copyright © 2012 Alexander T. Baugh et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Most studies addressing the development of animal communication have focused on signal production rather than receiver decoding, and similar emphasis has been given to learning over nonlearning. But receivers are an integral part of a communication network, and nonlearned mechanisms appear to be more ubiquitous than learned ones in the communication systems of most animals. Here we review the results of recent experiments and outline future directions for integrative studies on the development of a primarily nonlearned behaviour—recognition of communication signals during ontogeny in a tropical frog. The results suggest that antecedents to adult behaviours might be a common feature of developing organisms. Given the essential role that acoustic communication serves in reproduction for many organisms and that receivers can exert strong influence on the evolution of signals, understanding the evolutionary developmental basis of mate recognition will provide new insights into the evolution of communication systems.