Sexual signal loss, pleiotropy, and maintenance of a male reproductive polymorphism in crickets

Justa L. Heinen-Kay, Rachel E. Nichols, Marlene Zuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Pleiotropy between male signals and female preferences can facilitate evolution of sexual communication by maintaining coordination between the sexes. Alternatively, it can favor variation in the mating system, such as a reproductive polymorphism. It is unknown how common either of these scenarios is in nature. In Pacific field crickets (Teleogryllus oceanicus) on Kauai, Hawaii, a mutation (flatwing) that segregates as a single locus is responsible for the rapid loss of song production in males. We used outbred cricket colonies fixed for male wing morph to investigate whether homozygous flatwing and normal-wing (wild-type) females differ in responsiveness to male calling song and propensity to mate when paired with either a flatwing or normal-wing male in the presence or absence of courtship song. Flatwing females were less likely to mount a male than normal-wing females. Females of both genotypes showed a preference for normal-wing males and were more likely to mate in the presence of courtship song; normal-wing females were particularly likely to mate with song. Our results show that negative pleiotropy between obligate male silence and female mating behavior can constrain the evolution of sexual signal loss and contribute to the maintenance of a male reproductive polymorphism in the wild.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1002-1009
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank M. Kota, K. Robinson, and E. Urquhart for assistance with cricket rearing and experimental logistics; two anonymous reviewers, M. Xu, and Zuk lab members for feedback on the manuscript; and the University of Minnesota for funding. JHK analyzed the data and wrote the manuscript. RN performed all behavioral trials. All authors contributed to idea conception and experimental design, and provided critical feedback on the manuscript. Data are archived in Dryad (

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Evolution © 2020 The Society for the Study of Evolution.


  • Female mating behavior
  • Teleogryllus oceanicus
  • flatwing
  • genetic association
  • sexual signal evolution
  • sexual signal loss

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


Dive into the research topics of 'Sexual signal loss, pleiotropy, and maintenance of a male reproductive polymorphism in crickets'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this