, Volume 63, Issue 2, pp 217-226
Date: 16 Sep 2008

The effectiveness of katydid (Neoconocephalus ensiger) song cessation as antipredator defence against the gleaning bat Myotis septentrionalis

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Abstract

Many nocturnal katydids (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae) produce intense calling songs, and some bat species use these songs to detect and locate prey. One Nearctic katydid species, Neoconocephalus ensiger, ceases or pauses singing in response to bat echolocation calls. We tested the hypothesis that song cessation is an effective defence against gleaning bats (i.e., bats that take prey from surfaces). We observed Myotis septentrionalis, a sympatric bat species that uses prey-generated sounds when gleaning, attack and feed on singing N. ensiger in an outdoor flight room. These bats demonstrated a preference for the calling song of N. ensiger over a novel cricket calling song when they were broadcast from a speaker in the flight room. Bats attacked speakers broadcasting N. ensiger calling song as long as the song was continuous and aborted their attack if the sound stopped as they approached, regardless of whether a katydid was present as a physical target on the speaker. Echolocation calls were recorded during attacks and no significant differences were found between continuous and interrupted song approaches for four call parameters, suggesting that M. septentrionalis may not use echolocation to locate silent prey. Therefore, song cessation by katydids in response to ultrasound is an effective defence against gleaning bats.

Communicated by L. Simmons