• courtship behaviour ;
  • grasshopper ;
  • hybrid zone ;
  • sexual selection ;
  • visual display

The closely related grasshopper species Stenobothrus rubicundus and Stenobothrus clavatus are known to hybridize in a very narrow contact zone on Mt. Tomaros in northern Greece. These species produce very different and complex courtship songs accompanied with visual display. We analyzed the courtship songs and underlying stridulatory movements of the hind legs in natural hybrids from Mount Tomaros. The two species were also hybridized in the laboratory and their songs were compared with the songs of the natural hybrids. Some hybrid songs were shown to have intermediate features between parental songs, whereas other hybrid songs comprised completely new elements. The clavatus-like song elements were found to dominate in hybrid songs. These song features may influence the mating success of hybrid males in the contact zone. A comparison of hybrid songs with the song pattern of the north European S. rubicundus populations allowed us to suggest a scenario of S. rubicundus and S. clavatus origin. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, ••, ••–••.