Unique Communication System Discovered In Crickets

Posted: Dec 11 2015, 7:43am CST | by , Updated: Dec 12 2015, 11:10am CST, in News | Latest Science News

Unique Communication System Discovered in Crickets
Dartmouth Assistant Professor Hannah ter Hofstede and her colleagues have discovered that one group of crickets has a unique communication system that likely evolved from males startling females into revealing their location. Credit: Tony Robillard
  • New acoustic, vibrational duet discovered in crickets

A unique communication system was discovered in crickets.

A certain species of crickets has been known to use a particular communication system which was probably used by males to surprise the females into divulging their location. A new study sheds light on acoustic methods of contact in animals.

Evolutionary biologists have long since looked into this phenomenon which is of great interest to them. The means of communication have many mechanisms which can be employed at the drop of a hat. This much is known about animal linguistics.

"The origins of communication signals have long fascinated evolutionary biologists, and multiple potential mechanisms for these origins have been proposed," says co-lead author Hannah ter Hofstede, an assistant professor at Dartmouth who investigates how sensory systems evolve to encode the environmental cues that are crucial for an animal's survival and reproduction.

"Our results demonstrate how sensory exploitation of anti-predator behavior can also evolve into a classic communication system that benefits both senders and receivers, and that this unexpected origin might be more common than previously appreciated."

Sensation in animals allows for the environment to be traversed and also aids their survival not to mention mating strategies. Sensory stimuli can lead to evading predators and also undergoes a sort of evolution into a classic communication system.

This helps both senders and receivers and it is more banal than was thought of previously. Crickets tend to differentiate between mates and predators based on the system of acoustic sounds emanating from their bodies.

While male crickets give off low frequency signals, bats tend to produce high frequency signals. Some males that produce high frequency signals also manage to attract females.

In this case, the female behavior of walking up to males has been extinguished. Instead of this, the females produce vibrations from their bodies by shaking. These signals give their location away.

The males follow these voices and find the females. The origin of these vibrations in female crickets was probably a startle reflex in response to loud sounds of high frequency.

The crickets were further studied and it was found out that the high frequency crickets no longer had the low frequency auditory neurons in their system. The neuronal system had long since been lost in the evolutionary history of the crickets.

Crickets have been known to grind their legs which have spurs on them. This produces the classic response of these insects which could be heard on many a quiet night when no other sound can be heard in the distance.

The constant chirping is characteristic of these insects which are a favorite prey of bats and several species of birds. The crickets are known to hop a considerable distance so catching one isn’t easy.

Their nervous system consists of channels that run the length of their bodies. And their larger cousins, the grasshoppers and locusts, tend to spell the ruination of crops when they attack en masse.

The study, which sheds light on the evolution of acoustic communication systems in animals, appears in the journal Current Biology.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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