Does signalling mitigate the cost of agonistic interactions? A test in a cricket that has lost its song

D. M. Logue, I. O. Abiola, D. Rains, N. W. Bailey, M. Zuk, W. H. Cade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Prevailing models of animal communication assume that signalling during aggressive conflict mitigates the costs of fighting. We tested this assumption by staging dyadic encounters between male field crickets, Teleogryllus oceanicus, under three conditions: (i) both males could sing aggressive songs, (ii) neither male could sing, and (iii) one male could sing but the other could not. We conducted experiments on males from a Hawaiian population from Kauai that has recently evolved signal loss, and males from a Hawaiian population from the Big Island that has not. Among both populations, interactions between two silent males were characterized by higher levels of aggression than interactions involving one or two singing males. Because the level of aggression is strongly related to the cost of fighting, these data demonstrate that signalling mitigates the cost of fighting. In mixed trials, we found no statistically significant differences between the behaviour of calling and non-calling males in either population. We conclude that there is no evidence that the Kauai population exhibits special adaptations to alleviate the costs of signal loss. Finally, we found that males were much more likely to signal after their opponent's retreat than after their own retreat. Aggressive song therefore meets the definition of a 'victory display'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2571-2575
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1693
StatePublished - Aug 22 2010


  • Acoustic signals
  • Aggression
  • Animal communication
  • Coordination games
  • Flatwing mutation
  • Signalling


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