The calling songs of male spring field crickets (Gryllus veletis) change as males age
Sexual traits are typically thought to convey information about a male's quality or condition. Female preference for older males has been documented in many taxa, but the evidence that males signal their age is inconclusive. We investigated lifetime patterns of acoustic mate attraction signalling in a longitudinal study of the spring field cricket, Gryllus veletis. We recorded males continuously throughout their lives, such that every pulse of sound produced by every male was analyzed. Our study answers two main questions: (1) Do calls change as males age? Our results reveal that the calls of male spring field crickets change with age; the calls of older males were quieter, with more silent periods within and between chirps, and produced less often than those of younger males. As males aged most of the changes in call structure reflect decreased calling effort. (2) What is the relationship between calling effort and longevity? Lifetime calling effort was positively related to longevity, such that males that called the most over their life also lived longer than males that called less. Together, our findings provide the most thorough exploration of lifetime signalling patterns in crickets to date.