Temporal Shifts in Conspicuousness: Mate Attraction Displays of the Texas Field Cricket, Gryllus texensis


S. M. Bertram, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-4501, USA. E-mail: sbertram@asu.edu


Conspicuous mate attraction displays can simultaneously draw the attention of potential mates and predators, placing the signaller in peril of becoming prey. The balance between these countervailing forms of selection has the potential to shape mate attraction displays. Male Texas field crickets (Gryllus texensis; Orthoptera) signal acoustically to attract mates. Mating signals also attract acoustically orienting parasitoid flies (Ormia ochracea; Tachinidae). Both the abundance of female crickets and parasitoid flies fluctuates throughout the night. We show mate attraction displays exhibit diel shifts that correlate positively with expected female cricket presence and negatively with expected parasitoid fly activity. During early evening, when parasitoids are most common and mating is scarce, crickets signal less often and with reduced conspicuousness. During the second half of the evening, when sexually receptive females are abundant and parasitoids are scarce, crickets signal more often and with enhanced conspicuousness. These diel shifts in mate attraction displays do not appear to result from male crickets detecting parasitoid flies or female crickets and altering their behaviour accordingly. Males in close proximity to parasitoid flies or female crickets do not signal differently than lone males. Instead, diel pattern shifts in mate attraction displays appear to be a selective response to trade-offs between natural selection via parasitism and sexual selection via mate choice.