Acoustic Experience Shapes Alternative Mating Tactics and Reproductive Investment in Male Field Crickets

Nathan W. Bailey, Brian Gray, Marlene Zuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Developmental plasticity allows juvenile animals to assess environmental cues and adaptively shape behavioral and morphological traits to maximize fitness in their adult environment [1]. Sexual signals are particularly conspicuous cues, making them likely candidates for mediating such responses. Plasticity in male reproductive traits is a common phenomenon, but empirical evidence for signal-mediated plasticity in males is lacking. We tested whether experience of acoustic sexual signals during juvenile stages influences the development of three adult traits in the continuously breeding field cricket Teleogryllus oceanicus: male mating tactics, reproductive investment, and condition. All three traits were affected by juvenile acoustic experience. Males of this species produce a long-range calling song to attract receptive females, but they can also behave as satellites by parasitizing other males' calls [2]. Males reared in an environment mimicking a population with many calling males were less likely to exhibit satellite behavior, invested more in reproductive tissues, and attained higher condition than males reared in a silent environment. These results contrast with other studies [3] and demonstrate how the effects of juvenile social experience on adult male morphology, reproductive investment, and behavior may subsequently influence sexual selection and phenotypic evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)845-849
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 11 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Y. Eck, P. Patel, K. Simester, and B. Zelimkhanian for help rearing crickets, and the National Science Foundation, the University of California, Riverside (UCR) Academic Senate, and the UCR Graduate Division for providing funding. Five reviewers provided helpful feedback.




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