Mechanisms of high-frequency song generation in brachypterous crickets and the role of ghost frequencies

Robillard, T., Montealegre-Z, F., Desutter-Grandcolas, L. , Grandcolas, P. and Robert, D. (2013) Mechanisms of high-frequency song generation in brachypterous crickets and the role of ghost frequencies. Journal of Experimental Biology, 216 (11). pp. 2001-2011. ISSN 0022-0949

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Sound production in crickets relies on stridulation, the well-understood rubbing together of a pair of specialised wings. As the file of one wing slides over the scraper of the other, a series of rhythmic impacts cause harmonic oscillations, usually resulting in the radiation of pure tones delivered at low frequencies (2-8 kHz). In the short winged crickets of the Lebinthini tribe, acoustic communication relies on signals with remarkably high frequencies (> 8 kHz) and rich harmonic content. Using several species of the subfamily Eneopterinae, we characterise the morphological and mechanical specialisations supporting the production of high frequencies, and demonstrate that higher harmonics are exploited as dominant frequencies. These specialisations affect the structure of the stridulatory file, the motor control of stridulation and the resonance of the sound radiator. We place these specialisations in a phylogenetic framework and show that they serve to exploit high frequency vibrational modes pre-existing in the phylogenetic ancestor. In Eneopterinae, the lower frequency components are harmonically related to the dominant peak, suggesting they are relicts of ancestral carrier frequencies. Yet, such ghost frequencies still occur in the wings' free resonances, highlighting the fundamental mechanical constraints of sound radiation. These results support the hypothesis that such high frequency songs evolved stepwise, by a form of punctuated evolution which could be related to functional constraints, rather than by the progressive increase of the ancestral fundamental frequency.

Keywords:animal communication, calling song, wing stridulation, resonance, laser vibrometry
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C770 Biophysical Science
C Biological Sciences > C182 Evolution
C Biological Sciences > C340 Entomology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:9634
Deposited On:27 May 2013 16:59

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