Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 165, Issue 2, pp 165–177 | Cite as

Cricket phonotaxis: localization depends on recognition of the calling song pattern

  • Jasmine Stabel
  • Gernot Wendler
  • Hans Scharstein


Calling song with a carrier frequency of 5 kHz evokes positive phonotaxis in female crickets,Gryllus bimaculatus, when presented at an azimuth. In contrast, a continuous tone of 4.7 kHz in the same position when paired with calling song from above leads to negative phonotaxis. Under open-loop conditions, when a tethered animal runs on a paired tread wheel, characteristic curves are produced with the stable equilibrium point towards or away from the stimulus, respectively (Fig. 3).

In order to understand this sign reversal at the neuronal level, directional characteristics of the ascending acoustic inter neurons AN1 and AN2 were measured using extracellular recordings from the cervical connectives.

Taking the mean spike rate of the interneurons as a measure for their excitation, the function relating response magnitude to stimulus direction for calling song corresponds well to the behavioural characteristic curve (Fig. 5). The response function obtained using a continuous tone with simultaneous presentation of calling song from above is similar (Fig. 5) and hence does not correspond to the inverse behavioural characteristic curve.

However, consideration of the extent to which the temporal parameters of the calling song (syllables and chirps) are reflected in the neuronal response (amplitudes of the Fourier components) leads to characteristic curves for AN1 and AN2 which are in good agreement with the behaviour for stimulation with calling song as well as for the continuous tone experiment (Fig. 8). In addition, the neural response curves correspond to the behaviour in showing smaller amplitudes when a continuous tone rather than the calling song is presented on the horizon (Fig. 8).

From these data we conclude that the activity in interneurons AN1 and AN2 does not directly guide orientation in mating behaviour but first is filtered by a mechanism tuned to the frequency of syllables and/or chirps. According to this hypothesis recognition of conspecific song and localization proceed sequentially inGryllus.


Spike Rate Stable Equilibrium Point Calling Song Syllable Frequency Chirp Frequency 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jasmine Stabel
    • 1
  • Gernot Wendler
    • 1
  • Hans Scharstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Zoologisches Institut der Universität KölnKöln 41Germany

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