, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp 555-569

Calling song and selective phonotaxis in the field crickets,Gryllus firmus andG. pennsylvanicus (Orthoptera: Gryllidae)

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Abstract

The field cricket species, Gryllus firmusand G. pennsylvanicus,occur in a mosaic hybrid zone that roughly parallels the eastern slope of the Appalachian mountains in the northeastern United States. It is important to know what role, if any, the calling song plays in mate choice in sympatric and allopatric populations. In this report, we present results on the variability of calling song properties along transects across this hybrid zone. We also present the results of experiments on phonotactic selectivity of females from an allopatric population of G. firmus.The male calling song of allopatric G. firmuswas significantly slower in temporal rhythm (i. e., chirp and pulse repetition rates) and lower in pitch (i.e., dominant frequency) than that of allopatric G. pennsylvanicus.Calling song properties of males recorded in the hybrid zone varied considerably in temporal and spectral properties. In two-stimulus (choice) phonotaxis experiments, allopatric females of G. firmuspreferred synthetic calling songs with conspecific pulse repetition rates over songs that had lower and higher pulse rates. This preference persisted even when the sound pressure levels of alternative stimuli were unequal. Therefore, allopatric females of G. firmuscan discriminate between conspecific and heterospecific calling songs. Whether or not this same selectivity is present in sympatric populations remains unclear. Investigations of phonotactic selectivity in other allopatric and sympatric populations of both species are currently under way.