Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 154, Issue 1, pp 13–26 | Cite as

Frequency and temporal pattern-dependent phonotaxis of crickets (Teleogryllus oceanicus) during tethered flight and compensated walking

  • Gerald S. Pollack
  • Franz Huber
  • Theo Weber


Phonotactic responses ofTeleogryllus oceanicus were studied with two methods. Tethered crickets were stimulated with sound while they performed stationary flight, and steering responses were indicated by abdominal movements. Walking crickets tracked a sound source while their translational movements were compensated by a spherical treadmill, and their walking direction and velocity were recorded.

During both flight and walking, crickets attempted to locomote towards the sound source when a song model with 5 kHz carrier frequency was broadcast (positive phonotactic response) and away from the source when a song model with 33 kHz carrier frequency was used (negative phonotactic response) (Figs. 2, 4).

One-eared crickets attempted, while flying, to steer towards the side of the remaining ear when stimulated with the 5 kHz model, and away from that side in response to the 33 kHz model (Fig. 3). While walking, one-eared crickets circled towards and away from the intact side in response to the 5 kHz and 33 kHz models, respectively (Fig. 6).

Positive and negative responses differed in their temporal pattern requirements. Phonotactic responses were not elicited when a non-calling song pattern (2 pulses/s) was played with a carrier frequency appropriate for positive phonotactic responses (5 kHz), but this pattern did elicit negative responses with 33 kHz carrier frequency (Figs. 7–10). When an intermediate carrier frequency, 15 kHz, was used, the response type (positive or negative) depended on the stimulus temporal pattern; the calling song pattern elicited primarily positive responses, while the non-calling song pattern elicited negative responses (Figs. 11, 12, 14, 15). A curious phenomenon was often observed in the flight steering responses; while most responses to 15 kHz song pattern were primarily positive, they often had an initial negative component which was supplanted by the positive component of the response after approximately 2–5 s (Figs. 11, 12).

In recent experiments onGryllus campestris, Thorson et al. (1982) described frequency-dependent errors in phonotactic direction (anomalous phonotaxis) and showed how such errors might arise from the frequency-dependent directional properties of the cricket's auditory apparatus. Our findings, particularly the dependence of response type on temporal pattern when 15 kHz carrier frequency was used, argue that frequency-dependent directional properties alone cannot account for positive and negative phonotaxis inT. oceanicus. Rather, these represent qualitatively different attempts to locomote towards and away from the sound source, respectively.

We discuss the possibility that central integration of these opposing tendencies might contribute to anomalous phonotaxis.


Carrier Frequency Sound Source Walk Direction Intact Side Opposing Tendency 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerald S. Pollack
    • 1
  • Franz Huber
    • 2
  • Theo Weber
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Abteilung HuberMax-Planck-Institut für VerhaltensphysiologieSeewiesenFederal Republic of Germany

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