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Climate change alters sexual signaling in a desert-adapted frog

Cite this dataset

Calabrese, Gina; Pfennig, Karin (2022). Climate change alters sexual signaling in a desert-adapted frog [Dataset]. Dryad.


Climate change is altering species’ habitats, phenology, and behavior. Although sexual behaviors impact population persistence and fitness, climate change’s effects on sexual signals are understudied. Climate change can directly alter temperature-dependent sexual signals, cause changes in body size or condition that affect signal production, or alter the selective landscape of sexual signals. We tested whether temperature-dependent mating calls of Mexican spadefoot toads (Spea multiplicata) had changed in concert with climate in the Southwestern U.S.A. across 22 years. We document increasing air temperatures, decreasing rainfall, and changing seasonal patterns of temperature and rainfall in the spadefoots’ habitat. Despite increasing air temperatures, spadefoots’ ephemeral breeding ponds have been getting colder at most elevations, and male calls have been slowing as a result. However, temperature-standardized call characters have become faster and male condition has increased, possibly due to changes in the selective environment. Thus, climate change might generate rapid, complex changes in sexual signals with important evolutionary consequences.


Climate data were ordered from NOAA GHCND (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Global Historical Climatology Network Daily) via the Climate Data Online search tool (  These data are in "weatherdata.csv". Processing steps are included and described in the script "weather-data-analysis.R" and also described in the Manuscript, and include quality checks and pruning data columns, weather stations and dates that were not of interest to the study. 

Frog calls and breeding pond temperatures were recorded in the field as described in the manuscript (see Methods and also Supplemental Methods). Calls were processed via Audacity and RavenPro software to measure call characters (e.g. call duration, call rate, etc.) as described in the manuscript. Temperature-standardized metrics of each call character were calculated as described in the manuscript. These processed data are in "multiplicata-calls-with-temp-corrections.csv" and the analyses that use this data are in the script "call-rates-over-time-analysis.R".  Some examples of original call recordings used in the dataset are provided as supplemental files.


Usage notes

Use "weather-data-analysis.R" in R version 3.6.1 to analyze "weatherdata.csv"

Use "call-rates-over-time-analysis.R" in R version 3.6.1 to analyze "multiplicata-calls-with-temp-corrections.csv"


National Science Foundation, Award: IOS 1555520

Sigma Xi, Award: G201603152056018

Sigma Xi, Award: G2017100191928932

Oklahoma Biological Survey, Award: Howard McCarley Student Research Fellowship

American Museum of Natural History, Award: Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Fund Grant in Herpetology

American Museum of Natural History, Award: Southwestern Research Station Student Support Fund

Chiricahua Desert Museum, Award: Charles W. Painter Grant in Herpetology

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Award: Summer Research Fellowship