MAR 22, 2020 5:59 AM PDT

These Female Toads May Purposely Mate With Another Species

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

As a general rule of thumb, most of the world’s wild animals keep their instinctual mating practices within their own species bubble. But if you’re a female plains spadefoot toad, then you just might consider dabbling with another species – so long as the male in question exhibits quality characteristics that make it an ideal mating candidate.

A plains spadefoot toad in its nstural habitat.

Image Credit: Stanley Trauth via Wikipedia

Citing a paper that was only recently published in the journal Science by a group of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, it seems that the plains spadefoot toad sometimes bypasses potential male mates of its own species and instead opts to mate with males from another closely-related species called the Mexican spadefoot toad.

The researchers note that the male Mexican spadefoot toads aren’t being selected randomly by the female plains spadefoot toads, but rather by their quality. Based on the results of experiments conducted by the researchers, female plains spadefoot toads appear have a thing for males whose calls exhibit slower pulse rates, and male Mexican spadefoot toads often fit the bill whereas male plains spadefoot toads do not.

But why do the female plains spadefoot toads prefer males with slower call pulse rates? Your guess is as good as anyone else’s…

"Maybe a slower pulse rate means they're in better condition or is associated with certain genes linked to fitness," elucidated Catherine Chen, the paper’s first author. "But we can't say for sure right now."

Related: A bullfrog's extensive diet may surprise you

Many would be quick to assume that female Mexican spadefoot toads desire similarly preferred traits in potential male toad mates, but as it would seem, that’s not the case. Instead, female Mexican spadefoot toads favor males who make more frequent calls in a shorter period of time. This fact creates even more confusion in terms of understanding why the female plains spadefoot toads prefer the types of males that they do.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a hybrid species results when a female plains spadefoot toad mates with a male Mexican spadefoot toad. Like many other hybrids that exist in nature, these hybrid toads aren’t without their quirks. They appear different when compared to either of the purebred species, and males are typically sterile. What’s more is the female hybrids don’t seem to have a preference for either species.

Related: Researchers learn why poison dart frogs are immune to their own toxins

While hybridization in and of itself isn’t a new concept, the idea that one species selects another species over its own because of one particular trait, is. By studying this behavior more closely, researchers may learn why the female plains spadefoot toads are selecting the alternate species to mate with, and the resulting discoveries could help us understand why hybridization occurs in the first place and how it impacts evolution.

Source: Phys.org, Science

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 09, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Proteins Have an Orientation in Plant Cells
OCT 09, 2020
Proteins Have an Orientation in Plant Cells
Just like animals, plants are made of cells that are full of proteins. The proteins in plant cells are often only found ...
NOV 30, 2020
Plants & Animals
How to Help Plants Thrive While Reducing Fertilizer Use
NOV 30, 2020
How to Help Plants Thrive While Reducing Fertilizer Use
Soil helps provide plants with some of the nutrients they need, like phosphorous. Fertilizers may include phosphorous, w ...
JAN 31, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Humans Drank Milk Long Before Their Bodies Could Tolerate It
JAN 31, 2021
Humans Drank Milk Long Before Their Bodies Could Tolerate It
Scientists and archaeologists have long sought to learn when humans started consuming milk. They have tried to use indir ...
FEB 08, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Stem Cell Therapy is Now Suitable for Dogs
FEB 08, 2021
Stem Cell Therapy is Now Suitable for Dogs
With good food and exercise, many dogs can live a long and healthy life. But some suffer from chronic conditions that ca ...
FEB 09, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Scientists Spotlight Dangers of Ocean Noise Pollution
FEB 09, 2021
Scientists Spotlight Dangers of Ocean Noise Pollution
Many ocean species use sound to communicate and survive. Sound is a crucial communication method since vision is limited ...
FEB 23, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Plants May be Slow, But They Twist and Twirl
FEB 23, 2021
Plants May be Slow, But They Twist and Twirl
Plant roots can drill down into the soil, new work has shown. While it happens too slowly for us to see, time-lapse phot ...
Loading Comments...