Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 62, Issue 9, pp 1397–1407 | Cite as

A comparative study of aggressiveness in eastern North American field cricket species (genus Gryllus)

  • Yikweon Jang
  • H. Carl Gerhardt
  • Jae C. ChoeEmail author
Original Paper


To understand the variation in aggressiveness and factors important for contest outcome, we quantified and compared agonistic interactions of four field cricket species in eastern North America: Gryllus fultoni (Orthoptera; Gryllidae), G. vernalis, G. pennsylvanicus, and G. rubens. The most aggressive behavior that we observed, the grapple, was frequently displayed in agonistic trials of G. pennsylvanicus and G. rubens. By contrast, we never observed this behavior in trials involving G. fultoni and G. vernalis. Consequently, species was the only significant variable affecting the variation in aggressiveness, whereas size difference, age difference, and contest duration had no significant effect. In species with high levels of aggressiveness, G. pennsylvanicus and G. rubens, the factors that might be indicative of resource holding potential such as size or age difference seemed to be significant for contest outcome. In species with low levels of aggressiveness, G. fultoni and G. vernalis, however, there were indications that contest outcomes were determined by aggressiveness itself rather than the size and age differences between opponents. Markov chain analyses revealed that the difference in aggressiveness between species with high and low levels of aggressiveness lay in a sequence of escalating behaviors: antennal fencing, mandible flare, and grapple. The escalated state of aggressiveness characterized by this behavioral sequence in G. pennsylvanicus and G. rubens seems to be the ancestral state in the North American Gryllus phylogeny. We argue that the loss of a tendency to use burrows in G. fultoni and G. vernalis might be related to low levels of aggressiveness in these species.


Aggressiveness Gryllus Resource holding potential Resource value Territoriality 



We are grateful to Yoonju Cho for the video analyses, to Mathew Zack for the statistical analyses, and to Susan Lappan and David Weissman for the critical comments. This paper was greatly improved by the critical reviews of anonymous referees. This work was supported financially by the University of Missouri Life Sciences Mission Enhancement Postdoctoral Fellowship and the Brain Korea 21 to YJ, by a U.S. National Science Foundation grant (IBN0091993) and a U.S. National Institute of Health grant (NIH R01 DC05760) to HCG, and by a Ewha Womans University research grant to JCC. The experiments in this study comply with the current law of the United States.


  1. Adamo SA, Hoy RR (1994) Mating behaviour of the field cricket Gryllus bimaculatus and its dependence on social and environmental cues. Anim Behav 1994:857–868CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adamo SA, Hoy RR (1995) Agonistic behaviour in male and female field crickets, Gryllus bimaculatus, and how behavioural context influences its expression. Anim Behav 49:1491–1501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adamo SA, Parsons NM (2006) The emergency life-history stage and immunity in the cricket, Gryllus texensis. Anim Behav 72:235–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alexander RD (1957) The taxonomy of the field crickets of the eastern United States (Orthoptera: Gryllidae: Acheta). Ann Entomol Soc Am 50:584–602Google Scholar
  5. Alexander RD (1961) Aggressiveness, territoriality, and sexual behavior in field crickets (Orthoptera: Gryllidae). Behaviour 17:130–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Alexander RD (1968) Life cycle origins, speciation, and related phenomena in crickets. Q Rev Biol 43:1–41PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Alexander RD, Bigelow RS (1960) Allochronic speciation in field crickets, and a new species, Acheta veletis. Evolution 14:334–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Avise JC (2006) Evolutionary pathways in nature: a phylogenetic approach. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  9. Bakeman R, Gottman JM (1997) Observing interaction: an introduction to sequential analysis, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  10. Barlow GS, Rogers W, Fraley N (1986) Do Midas cichlids Cichlasoma citrinellum win through prowess or daring? It depends. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 19:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bateman PW (2000) Burrow residency, access to females and body size in male Scapsipedus meridianus Otte and Cade (Orthoptera: Gryllidae; Gryllinae). J Orthoptera Res 9:27–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bradbury WJ, Vehrencamp L (1998) Principles of animal communication. Sinauer, Sunderland, MA, USAGoogle Scholar
  13. Brooks DR, McLennan DA (2002) The nature of diversity: an evolutionary voyage of discovery. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, USAGoogle Scholar
  14. Burk T (1983) Female choice and male aggression in a field cricket (Teleogryllus oceanicus): the importance of courtship song. In: Gwynne DT, Morris GK (eds) Orthopteran mating systems: sexual competition in a diverse group of insects. Westview, Boulder, CO, USA, pp 97–119Google Scholar
  15. Chen S, Lee AY, Bowens NM, Huber R, Kravitz EA (2002) Fighting fruit flies: a model system for the study of aggression. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 99:5664–5668PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Choe JC (1994a) Sexual selection and mating system in Zorotypus gurneyi Choe (Insecta: Zoraptera): I Dominance hierarchy and mating success. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 34:87–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Choe JC (1994b) Sexual selection and mating system in Zorotypus gurneyi Choe (Insecta: Zoraptera): II Determinants and dynamics of dominance. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 34:233–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Foster SA, Endler JA (1999) Geograhic variation in behavior: perspectives on evolutionary mechanisms. Oxford University Press, New York, USAGoogle Scholar
  19. Gottman JM, Roy AK (1990) Sequential analysis: a guide to behavioral researchers. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  20. Greenfield MD, Minckley RL (1993) Acoustic dueling in tarbush grasshoppers: settlement of territorial contests via alternation of reliable signals. Ethology 95:309–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hack MA (1997) The energetic costs of fighting in the house cricket, Acheta domesticus L. Behav Ecol 8:28–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hau M, Wikelski M, Soma KK, Wingfield JC (2000) Testosterone and year-round territorial aggression in a tropical bird. Gen Comp Endocrinol 117:20–33PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hissmann K (1990) Strategies of mate finding in the European field cricket Gryllus campestris at different population densities a field study. Ecol Entomol 15:281–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hofmann HA, Schildberger K (2001) Assessment of strength and willingness to fight during aggressive encounters in crickets. Anim Behav 62:337–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Huang Y, Ortí G, Sutherlin M, Duhachek A, Zera A (2000) Phylogenetic relationship of North American field crickets inferred from mitochondrial DNA data. Mol Phylogenet Evol 17:48–57PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hunt K, Wingfield JC, Astheimer LB, Buttemer WA, Hahn TP (1995) Temporal patterns of territorial behavior and circulating testosterone in the Lapland longspur and other orctic passerines. Am Zool 35:274–284Google Scholar
  27. Hurd PL (2006) Resource holding potential, subjective resource value, and game theoretical models of aggressiveness signaling. J Theor Biol 241:639–648PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jackson WM (1991) Why do winners keep winning. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 28:271–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jang Y, Gerhardt HC (2006a) Divergence in the calling songs between sympatric and allopatric populations of the southern wood cricket Gryllus fultoni (Orthoptera: Gryllidae). J Evol Biol 19:459–472PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jang Y, Gerhardt HC (2006b) Divergence in female calling song discrimination between sympatric and allopatric populations of the southern wood cricket Gryllus fultoni (Orthoptera: Gryllidae). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 60:150–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jang Y, Gerhardt HC (2007) Temperature effects on the temporal properties of calling songs in the crickets Gryllus fultoni and G. vernalis: Implications for reproductive isolation in sympatric populations. J Insect Behav 20:33–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jang Y, Greenfield MD (1998) Absolute versus relative measurements of sexual selection: Assessing the contributions of ultrasonic signal characters to mate attraction in lesser wax moths, Achroia grisella (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Evolution 52:1383–1393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jang Y, Bockhorst A, Gerhardt HC (2007) Reproductive isolation in the wood cricket Gryllus vernalis (Orthoptera: Gryllidae). Ethology 113:87–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jin X-B, Yen AL (1998) Conservation and the cricket culture in China. J Insect Conserv 2:211–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Johnsson JI, Forser A (2002) Residence duration influences the outcome of territorial conflicts in brown trout (Salmo trutta). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 51:282–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Khazraïe M, Campan M (1999) The role of prior agonistic experience in dominance relationships in male crickets Gryllus bimaculatus (Orthoptera: Gryllidae). Behav Process 44:341–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kortet R, Hedrick A (2007) A behavioural syndrome in the field cricket Gryllus integer: intrasexual aggression is correlated with activity in a novel environment. Biol J Linn Soc 91:475–482CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mason AC (1996) Territoriality and the function of song in the primitive acoustic insect Cyphoderris monstrosa (Orthoptera: Haglidae). Anim Behav 51:211–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Matthiopoulos J, Moss R, Mougeot F, Lambin X, Redpath SM (2003) Territorial behaviour and population dynamics in red grouse Lagopus lagopus scoticus. II. Population models. J Anim Ecol 72:1083–1096CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Maynard Smith J (1982) Evolution and the theory of games. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  41. Maynard Smith J, Harper DGC (1988) The evolution of aggression. Can selection generate variability? Philos Trans R Soc Lond B 319:557–570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Moretz JA, Morris MR (2003) Evolutionarily labile responses to a signal of aggressive intent. Proc R Soc Lond B 270:2271–2277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Murakami S, Itoh MT (2003) Removal of both antennae influences the courtship and aggressive behaviors in male field crickets. J Neurobiol 57:110–118PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Nagamoto J, Aonuma H, Hisada M (2005) Discrimination of conspecific individuals via cuticular pheromones by males of the cricket Gryllus bimaculatus. Zool Sci 22:1079–1088PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Nelson CM, Nolen TG (1997) Courtship song, male agonistic encounters, and female mate choice in the house cricket, Acheta domesticus (Orthoptera: Gryllidae). J Insect Behav 10:557–570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Parker GA (1974) Assessment strategy and the evolution of animal conflicts. J Theor Biol 47:223–243PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Riechert SE (1998) Game theory and animal contests. In: Dugakin LA, Reeve HK (eds) Game theory and animal behavior. Oxford University Press, New York, USA, pp 64–93Google Scholar
  48. Simmons LW (1988) Male size mating potential and lifetime reproductive success in the field cricket Gryllus bimaculatus De Geer. Anim Behav 36:372–379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Solymar BD, Cade WH (1990) Heritable variation for female mating frequency in field cricket, Gryllus integer. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 26:73–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tachon G, Murray A-M, Gray DA, Cade WH (1999) Agonistic displays and the benefits of fighting in the field cricket, Gryllus bimaculatus. J Insect Behav 12:533–543CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tregenza T, Wedell N (1997) Definitive evidence for cuticular pheromones in a cricket. Anim Behav 54:979–984PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yikweon Jang
    • 1
    • 2
  • H. Carl Gerhardt
    • 1
  • Jae C. Choe
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Division of EcoScienceEwha Womans UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea

Personalised recommendations