Acoustic Signals in Insects: a Reproductive Barrier and a Taxonomic Character
- Entomological Review 期刊
- In singing insects, the song is an important component of the specific mate recognition system (SMRS). In communities of sympatric singing species, there is a partitioning of communication channels, the so-called “acoustic niches.” Within one community, the songs of different species always differ in temporal or frequency characters, i.e. occupy different acoustic niches. However, conspecific songs do not always act as an interspecific reproductive barrier, despite always being a SMRS component. The species that do not communicate acoustically due to allopatry, different timing of vocalization, inhabiting different biotopes, or unmatched food specializations can produce similar songs while forming reproductively isolated communities. Individuals of different sexes need not only to recognize a conspecific mate but also to evaluate its “quality.” The close-range signal (courtship song) provides more opportunities for choosing the “best” male than does the distant signal (calling song). In many species of Orthoptera, courtship includes not only acoustic but also vibrational, visual, chemical, and mechanical signals. An analysis of cricket songs showed the courtship songs to be on average more elaborate and variable than the calling songs. At the same time, due to the difference in mating behavior between the two groups, the acoustic component of courtship is used for mate quality evaluation to a greater extent in grasshoppers than in crickets. The courtship songs of grasshoppers are generally more elaborate in temporal structure than cricket songs; moreover, they may be accompanied by visual displays such as movements of various body parts. Thus, song evolution in grasshoppers is more strongly driven by sexual selection than that in crickets. According to the reinforcement hypothesis, the premating barrier between hybridizing species becomes stronger in response to reduced hybrid fitness. However, our behavioral experiments with two groups of hybridizing grasshopper species did not confirm the reinforcement hypothesis. We explain this, firstly, by a low level of genetic incompatibility between the hybridizing species and secondly, by high hybrid fitness when attracting a mate. A high competitive capability of hybrids may be accounted for by attractiveness of new elements in hybrid courtship songs. When we divide similar forms based on their songs, we in fact distinguish biological species using the criterion of their reproductive isolation. Acoustic differences between species are usually greater than morphological ones. Therefore, song analysis allows one to determine the real status of doubtful species-rank taxa, to distinguish species in a medley of sibling forms, and to reveal cryptic species in the cases when morphological studies fail to provide a univocal result. At the same time, songs are subject to intraspecific variation the range of which is different in different groups. Therefore, it is necessary to study which degree of difference corresponds to the species level before interpreting the status of some forms based on song comparisons. Besides, song similarities cannot indicate conspecificity of acoustically isolated forms; on the other hand, song differences between these forms prove that they are full-rank species.