Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Young cricket characters shaped by 'song'


The experiences of youth can change the adult personalities of crickets, a new study has found.
Scientists discovered that juvenile males that did not hear a cricket chorus while young grew into more aggressive adults.
It suggests that the animals can pick up behavioural traits while young which then become fixed in adulthood.
The scientists believe that personality may play a crucial role in ecology and evolution.
The findings of the team from the University of California, Davis, US are published in the journal Animal Behaviour.
In conducting the experiment the team captured juvenile field crickets that had not yet developed a tympanum, the equivalent to an ear, which grows on the cricket's front legs.
"We isolated them all effectively before any of them could hear anything," said lead author Nicholas DiRienzo.
While one group of crickets were reared in silence, another were played a looped recording of five calling males.
"In the sound treatment there was a chorus of five different crickets playing back, calling, to mimic just what you would hear on a summer night, lots of different crickets calling and singing."
The silence was similar to the conditions experienced by juveniles hatching in spring when the cricket population tends to be at a low density, and hence quieter. Any juveniles born later tend to find a denser population of crickets, which is louder.

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