Male gray treefrogs, Hyla versicolor, advertise for females in choruses in which calls often overlap. Previous research has demonstrated that such acoustic interference among conspecifics can impair the ability of a male to attract a mate. However, the stimulus set used in those studies was quite limited. Here we performed single-speaker and two-speaker tests of phonotaxis with female Hyla versicolor to explore the impact of different degrees and forms of call overlap on the relative attractiveness of male signals. We found that: (1) overlapped calls are recognized as acceptable signals by females, although they are less attractive than calls that are not overlapped; (2) the relative phase of the overlapping calls matters. When calls were time-shifted by 50% of their pulse-period (180 degree offset), attractiveness of overlapped calls was reduced relative to non-overlapped calls as much as it would be by a reduction in intensity of about 12 dB SPL or a drop in call duration of between one third to one half. A 90 degree phase offset was equivalent to a 3 dB drop in SPL; (3) partial call overlap may not impair call attractiveness if one third or less of the call is overlapped; (4) if the ending portion of a call is overlapped it may impair attractiveness less than if previous segments of a call are obscured; (5) if most (three fourths or more) of a male’s calls are free of interference, overlap of his remaining calls does not significantly impair his attractiveness.
communication, treefrogs, chorusing, acoustic interference, female choice