Hot-blooded singers: endothermy facilitates crepuscular signaling in African platypleurine cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae: Platypleura spp.)
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The cicada genus Platypleura has a wide distribution across Africa and southern Asia. We describe endothermic thermoregulation in four South African species that show crepuscular signaling behavior. This is the first evidence of thermoregulation in platypleurine cicadas. Field measurements of body temperature (Tb) show that these animals regulate Tb through endogenous heat production. Maximum Tb measured was 22.1°C above ambient temperature during calling activity at dusk. The mean Tb during dusk activity did not differ from the mean Tb during diurnal activity. A unique behavior for cicadas, a temperature-dependent telescoping pulsation of the abdomen, was observed in the laboratory during endogenous warm-up. This behavior is part of a unique method of heat generation in endothermic cicadas. Males generally call from trunks and branches within the canopy and appear to use endothermy even when the sun is available to elevate Tb. Endothermy may provide the cicadas with the advantage of decreasing predation and acoustic competition by permitting calling from perches that most complement their cryptic coloration patterns and that ectotherms cannot use due to thermal constraints. In addition, endothermy may permit calling activity during crepuscular hours when atmospheric conditions are optimal for acoustic communication and predation risks are minimal.
KeywordsWing Movement Abdominal Movement Thoracic Temperature Cryptic Coloration Endogenous Heat
The field assistance and company of Jackie-Ann Rapson was greatly appreciated. A.F.S. received funding for this study by the Ambassador Jean Wilkowski Fellowship at Barry University. M.H.V. was funded by the Rhodes University Joint Research Council.
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