The Science of Nature

, 107:9 | Cite as

Novel system of communication in crickets originated at the same time as bat echolocation and includes male-male multimodal communication

  • Jose Luis Benavides-Lopez
  • Hannah ter Hofstede
  • Tony RobillardEmail author
Original Paper


Understanding the evolutionary origins of communication signals requires careful study of multiple species within a known phylogenetic framework. Most cricket species produce low-frequency calls for mate attraction, whereas they startle to high-frequency sounds similar to bat echolocation. Male crickets in the tribe Lebinthini produce high-frequency calls, to which females reply with vibrational signals. This novel communication system likely evolved by male sensory exploitation of acoustic startle to high-frequency sounds in females. This behavior was previously described for the Lebinthini from Asia. Here we demonstrate that this novel communication system is found in a Neotropical species, Ponca hebardi, and is therefore likely shared by the whole tribe Lebinthini, dating the origin of this behavior to coincide with the origin of echolocation in bats. Furthermore, we document male duets involving both acoustic and vibratory signals not previously described in crickets, and we tentatively interpret it as competitive masking between males.


Orthoptera Predation High-frequency calls Vibrational signals Multimodal duets 



We thank the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute staff for logistical assistance during field collections on Barro Colorado Island (Panamá). Specimens were collected under scientific permit No.SEX/A-27-17 from the Ministerio de Ambiente de Panama. We thank Stefan Schöneich for advice and Marion Guillaume for cricket maintenance assistance in MNHN.

Authors’ contributions

TR collected the specimens. J.L.B.-L. conducted behavioral recording experiments. All authors contributed to the conception, design, analysis, and writing.

Funding information

The study was realized as part of the PhD project of JLBL, funded by Colciencias scholarship (756–2016). Field work in Panama was possible thanks to a grant from Actions Transversales du Muséum (MNHN).

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut de Systématique, Evolution et Biodiversité (ISYEB), Muséum national d′Histoire naturelle, CNRSSorbonne Université, EPHE, Université des AntillesParis Cedex 05France
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA
  3. 3.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteAnconPanamá

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