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Context Specific Signaling with Different Frequencies - Directed to Different Receivers? A Case Study in Gonatoxia Katydids (Orthoptera, Phaneropteridae)


In katydids (Orthoptera: Tettigonioidea) of the subfamily Phaneropterinae females ready to mate initiate a duet, announcing her position to the male singer, but also potentially to eavesdropping rivals. In many species the male seems to defend the communication by adding self-produced imitations of a female response. If these signals occur within the male sensory time-window after the female song, they can disturb the orientation of rivals. In two species of the genus Gonatoxia, males and females use short, relatively narrow-banded sounds (width 2–7 kHz 10 dB below peak). Male song and female response, however, differ considerably in peak frequency. In G. maculata, the peak frequency of the last part of the male song (13 kHz) is between that of the first part (15 kHz) and the female response (9 kHz), in G. helleri the last part (9 kHz; assumed imitation) and the female song are identical in peak frequency and by a factor two lower than the first part (19 kHz). The male stridulatory file of this species is correspondingly modified and differs from all other members of the genus. The imitation of spectral properties of the female response is not known from any other katydid.

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Our thank goes to Andreas Stumpner for comments on an earlier version of this paper and to two anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions. Klaus Reinhold helped with statistics. We gratefully acknowledge grants by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Tanzanian Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) as well as the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) for permitting research (research permit No 2016-102-ER-96-44).

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Correspondence to Klaus-Gerhard Heller.

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ANOVA data to Table 1. (PDF 55 kb) (PDF 55 kb)


Gonatoxia_maculata.wav. 30-s-section of a duett of Gonatoxia maculata, stereo recording (ca. 20 °C, Mt. Kilimanjaro, male CH8044, female CH806, Gonatoxia_maculata_2015_163 (WAV 7509 kb) (WAV 7509 kb)


Gonatoxia_helleri.wav. 30-s-section of a duett of Gonatoxia helleri, stereo recording (ca. 20 °C, Nilo forest reserve, male CH8134, female CH813, Gonatoxia_helleri_2015_25) (WAV 5633 kb) (WAV 5633 kb)

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Heller, KG., Hemp, C. Context Specific Signaling with Different Frequencies - Directed to Different Receivers? A Case Study in Gonatoxia Katydids (Orthoptera, Phaneropteridae). J Insect Behav 30, 420–431 (2017).

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