Acoustic signals for mating are important traits that could drive population differentiation and speciation. Ecology may play a role in acoustic divergence through direct selection (e.g., local adaptation to abiotic environment), constraint of correlated traits (e.g., acoustic traits linked to another trait under selection), and/or interspecific competition (e.g., character displacement). However, genetic drift alone can also drive acoustic divergence. It is not always easy to differentiate the role of ecology versus drift in acoustic divergence. In this study, we tested the role of ecology and drift in shaping geographic variation in the advertisement calls of Microhyla fissipes. We examined three predictions based on ecological processes: (1) the correlation between temperature and call properties across M. fissipes populations; (2) the correlation between call properties and body size across M. fissipes populations; and (3) reproductive character displacement (RCD) in call properties between M. fissipes populations that are sympatric with and allopatric to a congener M. heymonsi. To test genetic drift, we examined correlations among call divergence, geographic distance, and genetic distance across M. fissipes populations. We recorded the advertisement calls from 11 populations of M. fissipes in Taiwan, five of which are sympatrically distributed with M. heymonsi. We found geographic variation in both temporal and spectral properties of the advertisement calls of M. fissipes. However, the call properties were not correlated with local temperature or the callers' body size. Furthermore, we did not detect RCD. By contrast, call divergence, geographic distance, and genetic distance between M. fissipes populations were all positively correlated. The comparisons between phenotypic Qst (Pst) and Fst values did not show significant differences, suggesting a role of drift. We concluded that genetic drift, rather than ecological processes, is the more likely driver for the geographic variation in the advertisement calls of M. fissipes.
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