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The reason flies can hear frog’s love songs

A young PhD student from Costa Rica has been investigating the reason that a small fly in the jungle is able to hear love songs from the male frogs looking to find a mate. The fly can then find these frogs and consume their blood. Gonzalez, the student explains how being surrounded by the countryside really inspired her and drove her to learn more about nature.

“On family vacations we would visit our relatives in the rural province of Guanacaste, and swim in pristine rivers where howler monkeys would swing through the trees and sometimes peed on us,” she explains, “All these experiences with nature changed when I became older, or at least when it became clear to me that my environment was changing. I still remember when our river turned red because a meat company threw biological residues (blood and other parts of animals) in our river.”

As a result of this desire to learn more about and protect nature, Gonzalez is exploring how frogs communicate with one another and describes how eavesdropping can have different uses.

“Eavesdroppers exploit male frog calls and prey on them, adding an extra selective pressure for the frogs that call for mating,” she explains. “How can they solve variations in sound when multiple frogs are calling or when environmental conditions make a noisy background?” she investigates.

“By understanding this complex communication system, we cannot only improve our knowledge and better understand what is happening out there but also learn from nature and improve our own communication system by implementing technologies inspired in these mini-speakers of nature.”