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Males Who Can Multitask Are Sexiest for Female Frogs

Update Date: Aug 19, 2013 12:41 PM EDT
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Forget brawn or brains, female frogs prefer mates who can multitask.

Females of many species pick mates based on many indicators of health or parenting potential. However, it can be hard for males to produce multiple signals that show their mating potential simultaneously.

Researchers studying gray tree frogs found that females prefer males whose calls demonstrate they can multitask effectively.

Male tree frogs make "trilled" mating calls that consist of a string of pulses. A typical call can range from 20 to 40 pulses per call and occur between 5 to 15 calls per minute. Males face a trade-off between call duration and call frequency.  However, females prefer calls that are both longer and more frequent, according to the study published in the journal Animal Behavior.

"It's kind of like singing and dancing at the same time," lead researcher Jessica Ward said in a news release.

Researchers said the latest findings supports the multitasking hypothesis, which suggests that females prefer males who can do two or more hard-to-do things at the same time because it shows that they are good suitors.

"It's easy to imagine that we humans might also prefer multitasking partners, such as someone who can successfully earn a good income, cook dinner, manage the finances and get the kids to soccer practice on time," Ward concluded.

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