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Journal of Herpetology


Signaling is an important part of intraspecific and interspecific interactions. Theoretical work examining honest signaling in aposematic species (e.g., those with conspicuous colors and secondary defenses) has focused primarily on discerning the patterns between conspicuousness and defense within populations. Most empirical work, however, has investigated these patterns across populations or species. Here, we test for honest signaling across individuals within a population of the aposematic poison frog, Ranitomeya imitator. We find no evidence that increasing levels of the aposematic signal are correlated with increasing levels of defense in this species, indicating that our study population does not signal in a quantitatively honest manner, but rather that the signal is qualitatively honest. Additionally, we found no evidence that frogs with higher levels of defense behave more boldly as a result of the presumed increased ecological release from predation, an expected outcome in a qualitatively honest system. We discuss our findings in light of the ecology and evolution of R. imitator, and suggest mechanisms that may explain the absence of a relationship between toxicity and the aposematic signal.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.