, Volume 180, Issue 4, pp 373-386

Recognition of sex in the acoustic communication of the grasshopper Chorthippus biguttulus (Orthoptera, Acrididae)

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Abstract

Many gomphocerine grasshoppers communicate acoustically: a male's calling song is answered by a female which is approached phonotactically by the male. Signals and recognition mechanisms were investigated in Chorthippus biguttulus with regard to the cues which allow sex discrimination. (1) The stridulatory files on the hindfemur of both sexes are homologous in that they are derived from the same row of bristles, but convergent with respect to the “pegs”. In males the pegs are derived from the bristles, and in females from the wall of the bristle's cup. (2) Male and female songs are generated by similar, probably homologous motor programs, but differ in the duration, intensity, “gappyness” of syllables, risetime of pulses, and the frequency spectra. The hindleg co-ordination during stridulation and the resulting temporal song patterns are less variable in males than in females. (3) For both sexes, recognition of a mate's signal depends on species-specific syllable structure. For males it is essential that the female syllables consist of distinct short pulses, whereas females reject “gappy” syllables. Males strongly prefer “ramped” pulses, females respond to syllables irrespective of steeply or slowly rising ramps. Males react only to the low-frequency component, whereas females prefer spectra containing both, low and high frequency components.

Accepted: 20 November 1996