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  1. Abstract

    Sexual signals are often transmitted through multiple modalities (e.g., visual and chemical) and under selection from both intended and unintended receivers. Each component of a multimodal signal may be more or less conspicuous to receivers, and signals may evolve to take advantage of available private channels. We recently documented percussive substrate-borne vibrations in the Pacific field cricket (Teleogryllus oceanicus), a species that uses airborne acoustic and chemical signals to attract and secure mates. The airborne signals of Hawaiian T. oceanicus are currently undergoing rapid evolution; at least five novel male morphs have arisen in the past 20 years. Nothing is yet known about the newly discovered percussive substrate-borne vibrations, so we ask “how” they are produced, “who” produces them (e.g., population, morph), “when” they produce them (e.g., whether they are plastic), and “why” (e.g., do they play a role in mating). We show that the vibrations are produced exclusively by males during courtship via foreleg drumming. One novel morph, purring, produces quieter airborne songs and is more likely to drum than the ancestral morph. However, drumming behavior is also contextually plastic for some males; when we removed the ability of males to produce airborne song, ancestral males became moremore »likely to drum, whereas two novel morphs were equally likely to drum regardless of their ability to produce song. Opposite our prediction, females were less likely to mate with males who drummed. We discuss why that might be and describe what we can learn about complex signal evolution from this newly discovered behavior.

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  2. Jennions, Michael D (Ed.)
    Abstract Sexual selection can contribute to speciation when signals and preferences expressed during mate choice are coupled within groups, but come to differ across groups (generating assortative mating). When new sexual signals evolve, it is important to investigate their roles in both mate location and courtship contexts, as both signaling functions are critical in mate choice. In previous work, researchers identified two new male morphs (silent and purring) in Hawaiian populations of the Pacific field cricket, Teleogryllus oceanicus. These morphs likely evolved because they protect males from an acoustically orienting parasitoid, yet still obtain some reproductive success. But, it remains unknown how the purring morph functions in close courtship encounters. We compared the relative success of the very recently evolved purring morph to that of the ancestral and silent morphs during courtship encounters. Purring males produce a novel courtship song and were not as successful in courtship as the ancestral type, but were mounted by females as often and as quickly as the obligately silent morph that arose and spread ~20 years ago. Purring males initiate courtship more quickly than other morphs, and females from populations where purring is common exhibit higher overall mounting rates. Thus, differences in the behaviormore »of purring males and of females from populations where purring is common may have facilitated the origin of this novel sexual signal. We found no assortative mating between males of a given morph and females from their own population, and so we hypothesize that multiple male types will be maintained within the species because each achieves fitness in different ways.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 8, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  4. Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) are high-impact practices that allow students to conduct research during class time. Benefits of a CURE can be maximized when integrated into a faculty member’s ongoing research. However, this can be particularly challenging for field biologists, especially when field sites are not situated near their university. Indeed, few existing CUREs are field based. One solution is to partner with a collaborator near the field site. We describe a semester-long CURE in an animal behavior class that involved collaboration among three institutions: researchers from two “distant” institutions have ongoing research at the “local” institution where the CURE took place. This model uses remote conferencing and strategic collaboration to meet all stakeholders’ needs. Undergraduate students engaged as active participants in collaborative inquiry-based work, learned in a cooperative context, and even participated in the publication process. The local principal investigator and their institution generated a high-impact course that integrated research and teaching. Likewise, the distant principal investigators were able to collect more extensive and longer-term field-based data than otherwise possible, and they gained valuable input from the local researchers that contributed to future projects. Remote collaborations open the door to international collaboration with smaller institutions, promoting greater inclusionmore »in science.« less
  5. While thought to be widely used for animal communication, substrate-borne vibration is relatively unexplored compared to other modes of communication. Substrate-borne vibrations are important for mating decisions in many orthopteran species, yet substrate-borne vibration has not been documented in the Pacific field cricket Teleogryllus oceanicus . Male T. oceanicus use wing stridulation to produce airborne calling songs to attract females and courtship songs to entice females to mate. A new male morph has been discovered, purring crickets, which produce much quieter airborne calling and courtship songs than typical males. Purring males are largely protected from a deadly acoustically orienting parasitoid fly, and they are still able to attract female crickets for mating though typical calling song is more effective for attracting mates. Here, we document the first record of substrate-borne vibration in both typical and purring male morphs of T. oceanicus . We used a paired microphone and accelerometer to simultaneously record airborne and substrate-borne sounds produced during one-on-one courtship trials in the field. Both typical and purring males produced substrate-borne vibrations during courtship that temporally matched the airborne acoustic signal, suggesting that the same mechanism (wing movement) produces both sounds. As previously established, in the airborne channel, purring malesmore »produce lower amplitude but higher peak frequency songs than typical males. In the vibrational channel, purring crickets produce songs that are higher in peak frequency than typical males, but there is no difference in amplitude between morphs. Because louder songs (airborne) are preferred by females in this species, the lack of difference in amplitude between morphs in the substrate-borne channel could have implications for mating decisions. This work lays the groundwork for investigating variation in substrate-borne vibrations in T. oceanicus , intended and unintended receiver responses to these vibrations, and the evolution of substrate-borne vibrations over time in conjunction with rapid evolutionary shifts in the airborne acoustic signal.« less
  6. Abstract

    Inadvertent cues can be refined into signals through coevolution between signalers and receivers, yet the earliest steps in this process remain elusive. In Hawaiian populations of the Pacific field cricket, a new morph producing a novel and incredibly variable song (purring) has spread across islands. Here we characterize the current sexual and natural selection landscape acting on the novel signal by (1) determining fitness advantages of purring through attraction to mates and protection from a prominent deadly natural enemy, and (2) testing alternative hypotheses about the strength and form of selection acting on the novel signal. In field studies, female crickets respond positively to purrs, but eavesdropping parasitoid flies do not, suggesting purring may allow private communication among crickets. Contrary to the sensory bias and preference for novelty hypotheses, preference functions (selective pressure) are nearly flat, driven by extreme inter-individual variation in function shape. Our study offers a rare empirical test of the roles of natural and sexual selection in the earliest stages of signal evolution.

  7. null (Ed.)
    Anthropogenic disturbances associated with urban ecosystems can create favorable conditions for populations of some invasive plant species. Light pollution is one of these disturbances, but how it affects the growth and establishment of invasive plant populations is unknown. Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is a problematic invasive species where it has displaced native grassland communities in the United States, but to our knowledge, there have been no studies of the ecological factors that affect cheatgrass presence in urban ecosystems. We conducted field surveys in urban alleys in Denver, Colorado, to compare the presence of cheatgrass at sites with and without artificial light at night (hereafter artificial light) from streetlights. These streetlights are mounted on utility poles, which cause ground disturbance when installed in alleys; we were able to test the independent effect of poles on cheatgrass establishment because not all poles have streetlights on them. We found that cheatgrass was positively associated with the presence of streetlights and to a lesser extent poles. In addition to cheatgrass, we also found that other plants were positively associated with the presence of both poles and streetlights. Our results suggest that artificial light may benefit the occurrence of cheatgrass and other plant species in urbanmore »settings. While invasive populations of cheatgrass in wild habitats attract the most attention from managers, we suggest more consideration for this grass in urban environments where its growth and establishment benefit from anthropogenic changes.« less