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Mechanisms of synchrony in the North American fireflyPhotinus carolinus (Coleoptera: Lampyridae)

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Abstract

Photometric recordings combined with computer stimulation, acquisition and analysis were used to study synchrony in the North American fireflyPhotinus carolinus. A computer-generated burst of simulatedP. carolinus flashes was used to trigger a firefly flash burst. We found that the first triggered firefly flashes occurred after the second or third flashes in the stimulus burst, that there were fewer flashes in a triggered burst than a spontaneous burst, and that extending the stimulus flashes into the firefly's interburst interval inhibited firefly flashing. When the stimulus flash interval (389–560 ms) was changed, no change was seen in the interflash interval. When the stimulus flash interval was changed, the average time between stimulus flash and firefly flash (flash delay) changed as if the firefly interflash interval was constant. Thus, interflash interval inP. carolinus does not change its length, making it similar to the Southeast Asian synchronizerPteroptyx cribellata and different fromPteroptyx malaccae, which can change its interval. We suspect that the time between bursts is functionally analogous to the time between flashes in Southeast Asian synchronizers.

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Moiseff, A., Copeland, J. Mechanisms of synchrony in the North American fireflyPhotinus carolinus (Coleoptera: Lampyridae). J Insect Behav 8, 395–407 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01989367

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