Calling dynamics and call synchronization in a local group of unison bout callers

Douglas L. Jones, Russell L. Jones, Rama Ratnam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In many species of chorusing frogs, callers can rapidly adjust their call timing with reference to neighboring callers so as to maintain call rate while minimizing acoustic interference. The rules governing the interactions, in particular, who is listening to whom are largely unknown, presumably influenced by distance between callers, caller density, and intensities of interfering calls. We report vocal interactions in a unison bout caller, the green tree frog (Hyla cinerea). Using a microphone array, we monitored bouts from a local group of six callers embedded in a larger chorus. Data were analyzed in a 21-min segment at the peak of the chorus. Callers within this group were localized and their voices were separated for analysis of spatio-temporal interactions. We show that callers in this group: (1) synchronize with one another, (2) prefer to time their calls antiphonally, almost exactly at one-third and two-thirds of the call intervals of their neighbors, (3) tolerate call collision when antiphonal calling is not possible, and (4) perform discrete phase-hopping between three preferred phases when tracking other callers. Further, call collision increases and phase-locking decreases, with increasing inter-caller spacing. We conclude that the precise phase-positioning, phase-tracking, and phase-hopping minimizes acoustic jamming while maintaining chorus synchrony.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-107
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Array-based sound source localization and separation
  • Frog breeding chorus
  • Hyla cinerea
  • Male-male interactions
  • Weakly coupled oscillators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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