Journal of Ethology

, 28:141

Mate choice in field crickets: can females acoustically detect male body size?


DOI: 10.1007/s10164-009-0166-8

Cite this article as:
Verburgt, L. & Ferguson, J.W.H. J Ethol (2010) 28: 141. doi:10.1007/s10164-009-0166-8


Females can potentially choose high-quality males by evaluating male secondary sexual traits such as acoustic signals. In field crickets (Orthoptera: Gryllidae), body size is thought to indicate male quality. Song carrier frequency (FQ) has been suggested to indicate male body size because the areas of the wing that control FQ (harp) scale with body size. However, no direct evidence showing that males can advertise their size via FQ exists for grylline crickets. Firstly, we show the lack of evidence indicating a clear relationship between FQ and body size for grylline crickets by conducting a literature review. We then calculate the three-way relationship between body size, harp size and FQ and show no relationship between FQ and body size for Gryllus bimaculatus. Eight other commonly measured song parameters also failed to indicate body size. Individual female preference functions for FQ are calculated and we demonstrate that females cannot select large males on the basis of FQ. Furthermore, we demonstrate that variation in male FQ falls within the range of female preference at the population level. Females probably cannot evaluate male body size based on the temporal and spectral properties of male calling song and alternative avenues of study are suggested.


Body sizeFemale preferenceGryllus bimaculatusHarp sizeMate choiceSong frequencySpectral bandwidth

Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Zoology and EntomologyUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Centre for Environmental StudiesUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa