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Traffic noise could be drowning out the croaks of male frogs

A survey of more than 100 ponds found that the number of frogs has declined in Australia's second-largest city.

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A Growling Grass Frog sits in a swamp near Melbourne, Australia. Traffic noise could be drowning out the croaks of male frogs, an Australian researcher said Friday.

Geoff Heard/AP

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Traffic noise could be ruining the sex lives of urban frogs by drowning out the seductive croaks of amorous males, an Australian researcher said Friday. A well-projected and energetic croak is the male frog's most important asset in the quest to attract mates to his pond, Melbourne University ecologist Kirsten Parris said.

But competition from traffic noise in Melbourne could be a reason why frog numbers have declined in Australia's second-largest city since her survey of more than 100 ponds began in 2000, she said.

"If there are a number of different males calling, the one that sounds the best often gets the girl," Parris told The Associated Press. "You have to be pretty clear about your assets if you're a male frog."

"Generally, if he's putting a lot of energy into calling — if he's calling loudly or quickly or for a long time or all those things combined — it shows he's fit and strong and generally those things tend to correlate with female choice," she added.

Parris found the distance at which a frog suitor can be heard by a potential mate is slashed by city noise.

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