Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 196, Issue 5, pp 349–358 | Cite as

Auditory-based defence against gleaning bats in neotropical katydids (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae)

  • Hannah M. ter Hofstede
  • Elisabeth K. V. Kalko
  • James H. Fullard
Original Paper


Neotropical katydids (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae) are preyed on by gleaning bats, which are known to use male calling songs to locate them. At least one katydid species has been reported to stop singing in response to bat echolocation calls. To investigate the relationship between this behavioural defence and ecological and sensory factors, we surveyed calling song characteristics, song cessation in response to the echolocation calls of a sympatric gleaning bat (Trachops cirrhosus), and T-cell responses (an auditory interneuron sensitive to ultrasound) in five katydid species from Panamá. The two katydid species that stopped singing in response to bat calls (Balboa tibialis and Ischnomela gracilis, Pseudophyllinae) also had the highest T-cell spike number and rate in response to these stimuli. The third pseudophylline species (Docidocercus gigliotosi) did not reliably cease singing and had low T-cell spiking activity. Neoconocephalus affinis (Copiphorinae) produced continuous calling song, possibly preventing males from hearing the bat during singing, and did not show a behavioural response despite high T-cell activity in response to bat calls. Steirodon rufolineatum (Phaneropterinae) did not cease singing and differed in T-cell activity compared to the other species. T-cell function might not be conserved in katydids, and evidence for this idea is discussed.


Antipredator behaviour Acoustic startle response Calling song Tettigoniidae Chiroptera 



We thank the staff at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute facilities at Barro Colorado Island for their logistical support and assistance, especially Oris Acevedo and Belkys Jiménez. Thanks also to Rachel Page for joint work on the foraging behaviour of Trachops cirrhosus, from which we obtained the echolocation recordings, Peter Wall for the custom MATLAB application, and Negin Amin for data analysis. Funding for this study was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (discovery grant to J.H.F and postgraduate scholarship to H.M.tH.) and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (short term fellowship to H.M.tH.). Holger Goerlitz and Brock Fenton provided helpful comments on the manuscript. Experiments described here comply with the “Principles of animal care” publication No. 86-23, revised 1985, of the National Institute of Health, and also with the current laws of the country in which the experiments were performed.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hannah M. ter Hofstede
    • 1
  • Elisabeth K. V. Kalko
    • 2
    • 3
  • James H. Fullard
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  2. 2.Institute of Experimental EcologyUniversity of UlmUlmGermany
  3. 3.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteBalboaRepublic of Panama
  4. 4.Department of BiologyUniversity of Toronto MississaugaMississaugaCanada

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