Behavior

During my Master's degree at John Carroll working under the advisement of Dr. Ralph Saporito, I studied female mate choice in the strawberry poison dart frog, Oophaga pumilio. Much of what we know about mate choice in this species focuses on the populations in the Bocas del Toro archipelago in Panama where a unique color morph of the species exists on each island. Studies have shown females choose males who share their same color (and thus the males of their native island). However, ancestral populations on the mainland lack the extreme color polytypism shown on the islands, with individuals exhibiting slight variations in red hue and saturation. My research used both field observations and experimental trials to determine how females chose a mate in these relatively color-monotypic mainland populations. Using color spectroscopy, we found measurable variation in both hue and saturation of the populations and females tend to choose males with the most similar coloration to themselves, a pattern known as assortative mating. 

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© 2020 by Meaghan Gade