In the majority of anuran species, acoustic signals are the dominant mode of inter- and intrasexual communication. Male calls are always accompanied by the movement of a more or less conspicuous vocal sac—a potential visual cue. Reed frogs possess a striking vocal sac with a colorful patch of gland tissue clearly visible once the vocal sac is inflated during acoustic signaling. To investigate the visual signal function of vocal sac and gular gland, we presented male Spotted Reed Frogs (Hyperolius puncticulatus) with unimodal and multimodal signal playbacks of conspecific rivals in their natural habitat and recorded their behavioral responses. We found no difference in receiver response to unimodal advertisement call stimuli and to multimodal stimulus presentations of calls combined with visual signals of an artificial vocal sac with or without a gular patch, moving synchronously or asynchronously with the call playback. The inflations of a vocal sac with a colorful gular patch did not alter receiver response and neither increase nor decrease signal salience during male–male communication. Interestingly, males frequently displayed a novel hind and front foot-tapping behavior in response to all playbacks. Comparison of male responses to advertisement and aggressive call playbacks showed that Spotted Reed Frogs approached the sound source less during aggressive call presentations. Tapping behavior was not influenced by either call playback. We suggest that the gestural tapping behavior might act as vibrational signal and discuss its potential signal function in male contests and courtship for females.
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Vol. 74 • No. 2