Testicular masculinization of vocal behavior in juvenile female Xenopus laevis reveals sensitive periods for song duration, rate, and frequency spectra. Academic Article uri icon


  • In Xenopus laevis, adult males but not females produce courtship songs comprised of rapid trills. Two experiments were conducted to determine whether male-typical singing could be induced in females. At 6 different juvenile stages, male and female frogs were gonadectomized and implanted with testes, grown to sexual maturity, and tested for vocal behavior. All frogs with functional testicular implants sang; females sang as much as males. The frequency spectra of the clicks within trills were fully masculinized in females implanted at PM0, PM1, and PM2. There were deficiencies in song quality in females implanted late in juvenile life. Females receiving testis implants at PM3, PM4, and PM5 did not produce clicks with masculine spectral qualities. In a concurrent experiment, adult males and females were gonadectomized and implanted with testes or silicone tubes containing testosterone propionate. When tested for vocal behavior 10 to 15 months after implantation, 8/10 androgen-treated males, 3/12 androgen-treated females, 5/5 testes-implanted males, and 2/4 testes-implanted females sang. The females that did sing spent much less time singing than males. The click rates of females were uniformly slower than males and no female produced clicks with a masculine frequency spectrum. Thus, testicular secretions can induce male-typical singing in females until late in juvenile development. However, females exhibit a progressive decline in vocal potential with increasing age, culminating in an almost complete loss of singing ability by adulthood.

publication date

  • October 1992