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Taxonomy, distribution and first eco-ethological data of Melampsalta varipes (Waltl, 1837), an unrecognized cicada (Hemiptera, Cicadidae)

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The west Palaearctic cicada Melampsalta varipes (Waltl, 1837) has been studied for the first time in Spain. After a summary of its taxonomy and the designation of a neotype, its distribution and habitat in Spain and Portugal are given. M. varipes can be considered as a typical Mediterranean cicada essentially found in open fields, i.e. with low percentage of ligneous plants. The increase of tourism activities and the abrupt agricultural practice modification probably modify its habitat endangering the populations. Males call either when static on a perch or in flight. The song is attractive to both sexes, one singing male stimulating a chorus from surrounding males. The calling song consists of monotonous trains of short echeme and long echeme. Each echeme is composed of two parts: a successive short train of pulses and a sustained train of pulses. The structure of the signal varied among individuals in both temporal and frequency parameters suggesting individual acoustic markers. The duration of the inter-echeme silence may act as a simple specific recognition process. The frequency pattern show two groups of frequencies which could guide the female over long distances to males and then help them to localize males at close range.


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