Alternative reproductive tactics arising from a continuous behavioral trait: Callers versus satellites in field crickets

John T. Rotenberry, Elizabeth Swanger, Marlene Zuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Alternative reproductive tactics may arise when natural enemies use sexual signals to locate the signaler. In field crickets, elevated costs to male calling due to acoustically orienting parasitoid flies create opportunity for an alternative tactic, satellite behavior, where noncalling males intercept females attracted to callers. Although the caller-satellite system in crickets that risk detection by parasitoids resembles distinct behavioral phenotypes, a male’s propensity to behave as caller or satellite can be a continuously variable trait over several temporal scales, and an individual may pursue alternate tactics at different times. We modeled a caller-satellite-parasitoid system as a spatially explicit interaction among male and female crickets using individual-based simulation. Males varied in their propensity to call versus behave as a satellite from one night to the next. We varied mortality, density, sex ratio, and female mating behavior, and recorded lifetime number of mates as a function of a male’s probability of calling (vs. acting as a satellite) along a gradient in parasitism risk. Frequently, the optimal behavior switched abruptly from being pure caller (call every night) to pure satellite (never call) as parasitism rate increased. However, mixed strategies prevailed even with high parasitism risk under conditions of higher background mortality rate, decreasing density, increasing female-biased sex ratio, and increasing female choosiness. In natural populations, high parasitoid pressure alone would be unlikely to yield fixation of pure satellite behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-490
Number of pages22
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

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© 2015 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.


  • Alternative reproductive tactics
  • Field crickets
  • Individualbased simulation
  • Parasitoids
  • Satellite behavior


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