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Divergence in male cricket song and female preference functions in three allopatric sister species

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Abstract

Multivariate female preference functions for male sexual signals have rarely been investigated, especially in a comparative context among sister species. Here we examined male signal and female preference co-variation in three closely related, but allopatric species of Gryllus crickets and quantified male song traits as well as female preferences. We show that males differ conspicuously in either one of two relatively static song traits, carrier frequency or pulse rate; female preference functions for these traits also differed, and would in combination enhance species discrimination. In contrast, the relatively dynamic song traits, chirp rate and chirp duty cycle, show minimal divergence among species and relatively greater conservation of female preference functions. Notably, among species we demonstrate similar mechanistic rules for the integration of pulse and chirp time scales, despite divergence in pulse rate preferences. As these are allopatric taxa, selection for species recognition per se is unlikely. More likely sexual selection combined with conserved properties of preference filters enabled divergent coevolution of male song and female preferences.

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Abbreviations

dB:

Decibel

SPL:

Sound pressure level

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Acknowledgments

We much appreciate the assistance with behavioural experiments by Elisa Becker, Darja Hahn and Vivienne Kremling. Comments by Emma Berdan and Michael Reichert improved the manuscript. The performed experiments 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 Germany. Funded by DFG/SFB 618, ‘Theoretical Biology’, and GENART speciation network from the Leibniz Association.

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Correspondence to Ralf Matthias Hennig.

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Hennig, R.M., Blankers, T. & Gray, D.A. Divergence in male cricket song and female preference functions in three allopatric sister species. J Comp Physiol A 202, 347–360 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00359-016-1083-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00359-016-1083-2

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