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Factors Affecting Calling Behaviour in Field Crickets, Teleogryllus and Gryllus (Age, Weight, Density, and Parasites)

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The duration of calling by male acoustical insects should reflect the selective forces of mating success and longevity. Nightly calling durations were studied in the field crickets Gryllus integer, G. pennsylvanicus, G. veletis, and Teleogryllus africanus. Immediately after the final molt, males were placed in individual jars in the laboratory. Jars were monitored electronically for the production of calling song. Males started calling at 4 to 7 days on average in each species, and there were no significant changes in duration of calling with increasing age. G. integer was also studied in a large outdoor arena. Arena males first called at approximately the same age as males in the laboratory, and the duration of calling did not change with age. Onset of first calling followed initial production of the spermatophore by a few days in separate samples of each species. Absence of ontogenetic changes in the amount of calling demonstrates that calling and satellite males in field populations of G. integer do not result from age differences. Mean calling duration per night was determined for each male, and there was no difference in mean calling duration with male weight in any species in the laboratory, or G. integer in the arena. G. integer called significantly less on average than the other species. Individual calling durations in G. integer were highly skewed, whereas distributions of the other species were normal in shape. Reduced calling in G. integer may result from the attraction of acoustically orienting parasitic flies, Euphasiopteryx ochraces, to the calling song of this cricket species. Coefficients of variation demonstrated that G. integer is more variable in acoustical behaviour than the remaining species, an observation confirmed by previous field studies.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada L2S 3A1

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