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Volume 574 Issue 7776, 3 October 2019

Parental guidance

The cover shows a strawberry poison frog (Oophaga pumilio), a species found in Central America that displays a range of different skin colours. In this week’s issue, Yusan Yang and her colleagues reveal how maternal influence shapes both mating preferences and male competition among these frogs — and how this can potentially drive the formation of new species. In imprinting, offspring learn traits from their parents that later in life help to shape their behaviours. The researchers found that among the frogs, female offspring preferred to mate with male frogs that were the same colour as their mother. Similarly, males are more aggressive towards males that are the same colour as their mother. The overall result, the teams suggests, is that this is likely to reduce gene flow between frogs that bear divergent mating traits, thereby setting the stage for speciation to occur by sexual selection.

Cover image: Chris Stenger/Minden Pictures/FLPA

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