Naturwissenschaften

, 98:967 | Cite as

How to uncoil your partner—“mating songs” in giant pill-millipedes (Diplopoda: Sphaerotheriida)

  • Thomas Wesener
  • Jörn Köhler
  • Stefan Fuchs
  • Didier van den Spiegel
Original Paper

Abstract

The stridulation of the giant pill-millipede genus Sphaerotherium from South Africa, one of only three groups of millipedes that produce sounds, was studied. One hundred one stridulation series of a total of nine different species (Sphaerotherium dorsaloide, Sphaerotherium hanstroemi, Sphaerotherium mahaium, Sphaerotherium similare, Sphaerotherium punctulatum, Sphaerotherium convexitarsum, Sphaerotherium dorsale, Sphaerotherium rotundatum, and Sphaerotherium perbrincki) were analyzed. Stridulation sounds are produced only with a special field of ribs on the posterior surface of the posterior telopod, which is actively moved over a field of sclerotized nubs on the inner margin of the anal shield. The Sphaerotherium male usually stridulates only when in contact with a female to initiate mating. This seems to prevent the female from volvating into a ball or stimulate the female to uncoil when already rolled in. The sound analyzes revealed a broad frequency spectrum in all stridulation sounds produced, without obvious differences in frequency distribution among species. However, the temporal pattern of the stridulation varies greatly between species and seems to be species-specific, arguing for a species recognition function of the stridulation during courtship behavior. A single species (S. punctulatum) was found to stridulate during mating while three species also show postcopulatory stridulation. Apparently, pill-millipedes are not capable of acoustic perception, as no hearing organs are known, indicating that the communication is mainly based on perception of temporal vibration patterns, and not of the acoustic signal itself. The need to overcome the rolling-in reflex of the female is developed as a hypothesis why stridulation exists only in millipedes able to coil into a ball, and apparently evolved four times independently in the superorder Oniscomorpha.

Keywords

Arthropoda Sphaerotheriidae Stridulation organs Sound production Courtship behavior Pre-mating isolation South Africa 

Supplementary material

114_2011_850_MOESM1_ESM.doc (91 kb)
ESM 1(DOC 91 kb)

References

  1. Brandt JF (1833) Tentaminum quorandum monographicorum Insecta Myriapoda Chilognatha Latreillii spectantium prodromus. Bull Soc Imp Naturalistes Moscou 6:194–209Google Scholar
  2. Brandt JF (1841) Remarques critiques sur les espèces qui composent les genres Sphaerotherium et Sphaeropoeus, suivies d' une description de six espèces nouvelles des Sphaerothéries. Bull Sci Acad Imp Sci St Petersb 8(23):357–365Google Scholar
  3. Carl J (1906) Diplopoden aus dem Malayischen Archipel (Reise von Dr. Walter Volz). Zool Jahrb Syst 24(3):227–246Google Scholar
  4. Claridge M (2006) Insect sounds and communication, an overview. In: Drosopoulos S, Claridge M (eds) Insect sounds and communication physiology, behaviour, ecology, and evolution. CRC Press, New York, pp 3–10Google Scholar
  5. De Graaf J, Schoeman AS, Brandenburg RL (2005) Stridulation of Gryllotalpa africana (Orthoptera: Gryllotalpidae) on turf grass in South Africa. Flo Entomol 88:292–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. DeSaussure H, Zehntner L (1902) Myriapodes de Madagascar. In: Grandidier (ed) Histoire Physique, Naturelle et Politique de Madagascar 27(53): 1–356, pl 13–15Google Scholar
  7. Gervais P (1837) Etudes pour servir à l'histoire naturelle des Myriapodes. Ann Sci Nat 7:1–26Google Scholar
  8. Gervais P (1847) Myriapodes. In: Walckenaer (ed), Histoire naturelle des Insectes. Aptères IV: 1–623Google Scholar
  9. Golovatch SI (2003) A review of the volvatory Polydesmida, with special reference to the patterns of volvation (Diplopoda). Afr Invertebr 44:39–60Google Scholar
  10. Gravely FH (1915) Notes on the habits of Indian insects, myriapods and arachnids. Rec Indian Museum 11(6):483–540Google Scholar
  11. Haacker U (1968) Stridulation bei Loboglomeris (Diplopoda). Naturwissenschaften 55(12):656–657PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Haacker U (1969a) Der Stridulationsapparat von Loboglomeris und seine Funktion im Sexualverhalten. Vie Milieu C 20(1):57–64Google Scholar
  13. Haacker U (1969b) Das Sexualverhalten von Sphaerotherium dorsale (Myriapoda, Diplopoda). Verh Deut Z 1968:454–463Google Scholar
  14. Haacker U (1974) Patterns of communication in courtship and mating behaviour of millipedes (Diplopoda). Sym Zool S 32:317–328Google Scholar
  15. Herbert DG (2000) Dining on diplopods: remarkable feeding behaviour in chlamydephorid slugs (Mollusca: Gastropoda). J Zool 251:1–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hoffman RL (1980) Classification of the Diplopoda. Musée d’Histoire Naturelle de Genève, Genève, Switzerland, 237ppGoogle Scholar
  17. Holloway BA (1956) Revision of the New Zealand pill millipedes (Oniscomorpha, Sphaerotheridae). Trans Proc R Soc NZ 84(2):431–446Google Scholar
  18. Hopkin SP, Read HJ (1992) The biology of millipedes. 1–233Google Scholar
  19. Jocque R (2005) Six stridulation organs on one spider (Araneae, Zodariidae): is this the limit? J Arachnol 33:597–603CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Koch UT, Elliott CJ, Schäfer KH, Kleindienst HU (1988) The mechanics of stridulation of the cricket Gryllus campestris. J Comp Physiol A 162:213–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Masters WM (1979) Insect disturbance stridulation: its defensive role. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 5:187–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Päckert M, Blume C, Sun Y-H, Wei L, Martens J (2009) Acoustic differentiation reflects mitochondrial lineages in Blyth’s Leaf Warbler and White-tailed Leaf Warbler complexes (Aves: Phylloscopus reguloides, P. davisoni). Biol J Linn Soc 96:584–600CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Padial JM, Köhler J, Muñoz A, De la Riva I (2008) Assessing the taxonomic status of tropical frogs through bioacoustics: geographical variation in the advertisement calls in the Eleutherodactylus discoidalis species group (Anura). Zool J Linn Soc 152:353–365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Padial JM, Castroviejo-Fisher S, Köhler J, Vilà C, Chaparro JC, De la Riva I (2009) Deciphering the products of evolution at the species level: the need for an integrative taxonomy. Zool Scr 38:431–447CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Riede K (1998) Acoustic monitoring of Orthoptera and its potential for conservation. J Insect Conserv 2:217–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ryan MJ (2001) Anuran communication. Smithonian Institution Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  27. Schömann K (1954) Das "Paarungs"-Verhalten von Polyxenus lagurus L. (Diplopoda). Naturwissenschaften 13:310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Schubart O (1958) Diplopoda II: Oniscomorpha. In: Hanström B, Brinck P, Rudebeck G (eds) South African animal life 5: 41–108Google Scholar
  29. Sebeok TA (1965) Animal communication. Science 147(3661):1006–1014PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sierwald P, Bond JE (2007) Current status of the myriapod class Diplopoda (millipedes): taxonomic diversity and phylogeny. Annu Rev Entomol 52:401–420PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Silvestri F (1910) Materiali per una revisione dei Diplopoda Oniscomorpha. I. Specie del genere Sphaerotherium dell'Africa meridionale a me note. Boll Lab Zool Gen Agr Portici 4:180–220Google Scholar
  32. Skovmand O, Enghoff H (1980) Stridulation in Alipes grandidieri (Lucas), a scolopendromorph centipede. Vidensk Medd fra Dansk naturh Foren 142:151–160Google Scholar
  33. VandenSpiegel D (2002) On the occurrence of Sphaerotherium punctulatum in Malawi (Diplopoda: Sphaerotheriidae). Ann Mus R Afr Cent (Zool) 206:171–174Google Scholar
  34. VandenSpiegel D, Golovatch SI, Hamer ML (2002) Revision of some of the oldest species in the millipede genus Sphaerotherium Brandt, 1833 (Diplopoda, Sphaerotheriida, Sphaerotheriidae), with new synonymies. Afr Invertebr 43:143–181Google Scholar
  35. Vences M, Köhler J, Pabijan M, Glaw F (2010) Two syntopic and microendemic new frogs of the genus Blommersia from the east coast of Madagascar. Afr J Herpetol 59:133–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Verhoeff KW (1906) Über Diplopoden. 4. (24.) Aufsatz: Zur Kenntnis der Glomeriden (zugleich Vorläufer einer Glomeris-Monographie). Arch Naturgesch 72(1):107–226Google Scholar
  37. Verhoeff KW (1928) 2. Buch: Diplopoda. In: Bronn HG (ed) Klassen und Ordnungen des Tierreichs, Bd. 5, Abt. 2.: pp. 1–1071Google Scholar
  38. Wesener T, VandenSpiegel D (2009) A first phylogenetic analysis of Giant Pill-Millipedes (Diplopoda: Sphaerotheriida), a new model Gondwanan taxon, with special emphasis on island gigantism. Cladistics 25:545–573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wesener T, Wägele J-W (2008) The giant pill-millipedes of Madagascar: revision of the genus Zoosphaerium (Myriapoda, Diplopoda, Sphaerotheriida). Zoosystema 30(1):1–85Google Scholar
  40. Wessels A (2006) Stridulation in the Coleoptera—an overview. In: Drosopoulos S, Claridge M (eds) Insect sounds and communication physiology, behaviour, ecology, and evolution. CRC Press, New York, pp 397–403Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Wesener
    • 1
  • Jörn Köhler
    • 2
  • Stefan Fuchs
    • 3
  • Didier van den Spiegel
    • 4
  1. 1.Research Museum Alexander Koenig, Sektion MyriapodaBonnGermany
  2. 2.Hessisches Landesmuseum DarmstadtDarmstadtGermany
  3. 3.Institut für Bienenkunde, Polytechnische Gesellschaft, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am MainOberurselGermany
  4. 4.Royal Museum for Central Africa, Invertebrate SectionTervurenBelgium

Personalised recommendations