Interactions between species can affect the evolution of their sexual signals, receiver selectivity, or both. One commonly expected outcome is reproductive character displacement, whereby adverse consequences of mismating select for greater differentiation of communication systems in areas of sympatry than in areas of allopatry. We found evidence of reproductive character displacement in the acoustic communication system of green tree frogs (Hyla cinerea). The strength of female preferences for the spectral properties of calls that distinguish conspecific calls from those of a closely related congener, H. gratiosa, was greater in areas of sympatry with H. gratiosa than in areas of allopatry. We also found subtle differences in advertisement calls and in the heights of male calling perches when we restricted our comparisons to localities in which H. gratiosa was also breeding (syntopy) with localities where this species was absent. Hyla cinerea and H. gratiosa show only weak genetic incompatibility, but the calls representative of interspecific hybrids were unattractive to females of both parental species. Hybrids might also be at an ecological disadvantage because of different habitat preferences of the two taxa. Thus, selection against production of less fit or less attractive hybrid or backcross offspring are probably the main causes responsible for the differences documented in this paper.
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