Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 193, Issue 5, pp 537–545 | Cite as

Listening when there is no sexual signalling? Maintenance of hearing in the asexual bushcricket Poecilimon intermedius

  • Gerlind U. C. Lehmann
  • Johannes Strauß
  • Reinhard Lakes-Harlan
Original Paper


Unisexual reproduction is a widespread phenomenon in invertebrates and lower vertebrates. If a former sexual reproducing species becomes parthenogenetic, we expect traits that were subject to sexual selection to diminish. The bushcricket Poecilimon intermedius is one of the few insect species with obligate but diploid parthenogenetic reproduction. We contrasted characters that are involved in mating in a sexually sibling species with the identical structures in the parthenogenetic P. intermedius. Central for sexual communication are male songs, while receptive females approach the males phonotactically. Compared to its sister-species P. ampliatus, the morphology of the hearing organs (acoustic spiracle, crista acustica) and the function of hearing (acoustic threshold) are reduced in P. intermedius. Nonetheless, hearing is clearly maintained in the parthenogenetic females. Natural selection by acoustic hunting bats, pleiotropy or a developmental trap may explain the well maintained hearing function.


Neuroanatomy Bioacoustics Auditory ecology Regression Vestigialization 



We thank K.-G. Heller, A.W. Lehmann and R. Hickson for their discussion of the manuscript. GL is supported by the “Berliner Programm zur Förderung der Chancengleichheit für Frauen in Forschung und Lehre” of the Humboldt University Berlin. The experiments comply with the principles of animal care and also with current laws of the Federal Republic of Germany.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerlind U. C. Lehmann
    • 1
  • Johannes Strauß
    • 2
  • Reinhard Lakes-Harlan
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut für Zoologie, AG EvolutionsbiologieFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Institut für Tierphysiologie, AG Integrative SinnesphysiologieUniversität GießenGießenGermany

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