The Effects of Calling Song Spacing and Intensity on the Attraction of Flying Crickets (Orthoptera: Goryllidae: Nemobiinae)

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Previous studies have shown that sexually signaling males across different taxa show stereotyped spacing behavior that may be related to aspects of their signals, such as intensity. However, few studies have shown that the separation between signaling males affects their relative attractiveness. Using two sound traps broadcasting the calling song of the cricket Eunemobius carolinus, we show that the separation, relative intensity, and absolute intensity of the calling songs influence calling song attractiveness. For calling songs separated by 5 m, the proportion of individuals attracted to the higher intensity song increased as the relative intensity difference of the two songs increased from 3 to 6 dB. For calling songs that differed by 6 dB, relative attraction to the less intense song decreased with decreasing song separation. These two results are consistent with the predictions of a model (Forrest and Raspet, 1994) that suggests that dense spacing is more costly for less powerful singers and that this cost increases with increasing differences in relative intensity. When the relative intensity of the songs was held constant (6 dB), we found that discrimination between songs decreases as the song absolute intensity increases. In particular, a greater proportion of individuals was attracted to the high-intensity song when the songs were broadcast at 103 and 97 dB than when the songs were broadcast at 109 and 103 dB. Unlike mammals and birds, the ability of E. carolinus to discriminate between songs that differ in intensity may decrease as the absolute intensity increases. This may mean that females are less discriminating when they are closer to singing males.

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