Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Tree Cricket's Song in Tune with the Temperature

Among many male crickets, larger body size means a lower pitched song and more attention from the lady crickets. But male tree crickets break this rule: The pitch of their song changes with temperature. 
The basic mechanics are straightforward, according to new research that explores tree crickets' unusual song. Tree crickets have more elongated wings than other species, particularly field crickets, and tree crickets vibrate their entire wing when they call, rather than just part of it, as other crickets do.
But the discovery points to another, trickier question: Why?

The variability in male tree crickets' call creates a problem. Normally, female crickets find their mates by tuning into the precise frequency at which the males broadcast their chirpy song, tuning out other noise. But if males' calls aren't finely tuned, how do females home in on them?

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