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Seasonal Variation in Female Response to Male Calling Song in the Field Cricket, Gryllus rubens

Authors


H. Jane Brockmann, Department of Zoology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-8525, USA. E-mail: hjb@zoo.ufl.edu

Abstract

Conspicuous traits that make males attractive to females may make them vulnerable to predators. Females that approach conspicuous males may increase their risk of predation. This means that selection for reduced male conspicuousness in the presence of predators may be due to sexual selection resulting from altered female behavior in the face of increased predator risk. We examine this hypothesis in the field cricket, Gryllus rubens, in which male calling song attracts both conspecific females for mating and parasitoid flies (Ormia ochracea) which kill their hosts within a week. Female crickets are also parasitized by these flies as a result of associating with calling males. In northern Florida crickets that emerge in the spring are not subject to fly parasitism whereas autumn crickets encounter large numbers of flies. We predicted that autumn females should be less attracted to male song than spring females. We tested female response to male calls in a rectangular arena in which male calling song was broadcast from a speaker. Spring females readily approached the speaker but autumn females were less likely to approach and remain in the vicinity of the speaker. These results emphasize the importance of considering how risk affects the evolution of conspicuous male behavior both directly through its effect on the male and indirectly through its effect on female responses to males.

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