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Abstract In many species males vocally advertise for mates in choruses and these choruses serve as acoustic beacons to conspecific females as well as to eavesdropping predators and parasites. Chorusing will often cease in response to disturbances, such as the presence of predators. In some cases the cessation is so rapid and over such a large area that it seems improbable that males are all responding directly to the same local disturbance. Here, we demonstrate experimentally in Neotropical túngara frogs, Physalaemus pustulosus, that the cessation of calling by males spreads rapidly through the chorus. The cessation of chorusing in response to the cessation of playbacks of three calling males is more effective in inducing chorus cessation than is the cessation of one male calling. When three males are calling, the cessation of complex calls is more effective in inducing chorus cessation than simple calls. There is no main effect on whether the final call of the male is complete or is interrupted. We thus conclude that the sudden lack of signals—the ‘sounds of silence’—becomes an alarm cue that can explain the rapid cessation of choruses that are common in many chorusing species.