Diel variation in signalling and signal transmission in the bladder grasshopper, Bullacris unicolor (Orthoptera; Pneumoridae)

in Behaviour
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Here we investigate intraspecific variation in diel patterns of acoustic signalling in the bladder grasshopper, Bullacris unicolor. We observed that B. unicolor calls at different times during the night in different parts of its distribution. Males further north typically call just before dawn, while those further south signal throughout the night. Sound transmission experiments were conducted in order to determine whether the observed discrepancy in signal timing can be explained by differences in signal propagation at different times in the night, which might vary geographically. We found significant differences in signal attenuation and fidelity at different broadcast times as well as between locations. However, there was only partial support for the hypothesis that males time their calls to coincide with the most ideal transmission conditions. We suggest that other factors, such as predation pressure, might also contribute to the observed discrepancy in signal timing between populations.

Diel variation in signalling and signal transmission in the bladder grasshopper, Bullacris unicolor (Orthoptera; Pneumoridae)

in Behaviour



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    Waveform (top) and spectrogram (bottom) of (a) the advertisement call of B. unicolor. The undegraded test signal is shown in (a) and the same signal recorded at 100 m in (b).

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    Histograms of calling activity for B. unicolor males collected in the southern (left; N=12) and northern (right; N=28) regions of their distribution. The horizontal lines represent average sunset and sunrise times for the recording dates, for males collected in each of the two regions.

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    Excess attenuation (mean ± SE) of sounds transmitted at the northern site (a) and the southern site (b) at each of three times during the night. The line at zero represents values expected due to spherical spreading.

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    Signal to noise ratio (mean ± SE) of sounds transmitted at the northern site (a) and the southern site (b) at each of three times during the night.

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    Power spectra of representative background noise at the northern site (a) and the southern site (b). The vertical line indicates the carrier frequency of the call of B. unicolor.

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    Maximum correlation coefficients from spectrographic cross correlation (mean ± SE) of sounds transmitted at the northern site (a) and the southern site (b) at each of three times during the night.

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