Meeting Abstract

72.2  Friday, Jan. 6  Male Removal Experiments Support the Biparental Care Hypothesis for the Evolution of Monogamy in Ranitomeya imitator. TUMULTY, J. P.*; SUMMERS, K.; East Carolina University; East Carolina University

Levels of parental investment by each sex are important factors in determining the mating system of a species. Selection for biparental care can favor a monogamous mating system if it becomes crucial for offspring survival and parents can achieve higher reproductive success through exclusive cooperation in care for mutual offspring than through polygamy. The mimic poison frog, Ranitomeya imitator, exhibits both biparental care, characterized by trophic egg feeding, and social and genetic monogamy. Males typically guard egg clutches and transport tadpoles to arboreal pools of water in leaf axils, then periodically call to females, stimulating them to lay trophic eggs. These behaviors are associated with the use of very small, nutrient-poor pools for tadpole deposition, which lack sufficient food for tadpole survival without the provisioning of trophic eggs. Male removal experiments were used to determine the role males play in trophic egg feeding and to test the hypothesis that selection for cooperative biparental care is maintaining monogamy in this species. Results show decreased growth and survival of tadpoles belonging to widowed females compared to those of un-manipulated control families. These results suggest males play a critical role in trophic egg provisioning and thus offspring success, and provide support for the biparental care hypothesis for the evolution of monogamy in R. imitator.