Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Grasshoppers change their tune to stay tuned over traffic noise

Date:
November 13, 2012
Source:
Wiley
Summary:
Grasshoppers are having to change their song -- one of the iconic sounds of summer -- to make themselves heard above the din of road traffic, ecologists have discovered. The study is the first to show that human-made noise affects natural insect populations.

C. biguttulus male.
Credit: Copyright U Lampe

Grasshoppers are having to change their song -- one of the iconic sounds of summer -- to make themselves heard above the din of road traffic, ecologists have discovered. The study, published in the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology, is the first to show that human-made noise affects natural insect populations.

Related Articles


Animals use sound to communicate for many reasons, including marking out territory, warning of predators and finding mates, and although previous research shows birds, whales and even frogs alter their calls in noisy environments, the impact of human-made noise on insects has been neglected until now. Ulrike Lampe and colleagues from the University of Bielefeld in Germany caught 188 male bow-winged grasshoppers (Chorthippus biguttulus), half from quiet locations and half from beside busy roads. The grasshoppers use their song -- produced by rubbing a toothed file on their hind legs against a protruding vein on their front wings -- to attract mates.

The team then studied the differences in the two groups' songs in the laboratory. To encourage them to sing they exposed the males to a female grasshopper, and then recorded their courtship songs. Analysis of almost 1,000 recordings revealed grasshoppers living beside noisy roads produced different songs to those living in quieter locations.

According to Lampe: "Bow-winged grasshoppers produce songs that include low and high frequency components. We found that grasshoppers from noisy habitats boost the volume of the lower-frequency part of their song, which makes sense since road noise can mask signals in this part of the frequency spectrum."

The team's findings are important because traffic noise could be upsetting the grasshopper's mating system. "Increased noise levels could affect grasshopper courtship in several ways. It could prevent females from hearing male courtship songs properly, prevent females from recognising males of their own species, or impair females' ability to estimate how attractive a male is from his song," Lampe explains.

Having discovered that human-made noise affects insect communication, the researchers now want to learn more about how the mechanism works, and whether the grasshoppers adapt to noise during their development as larvae, or whether males from noisy habitats produce different songs due to genetic differences.

The bow-winged grasshopper is a common species in Central Europe. Adults occur mainly between July and September, preferring dry grasslands. Around 1.5 cm long, they vary in colour from green and browns to red and purple. The male's song consists of 2 second-long phrases that increase in amplitude towards the end. The beginning of a phrase is characterised by slower ticking sounds that increase in speed and amplitude, leading to a buzzing sound towards the end of the phrase. A courtship song usually includes 2 phrases.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ulrike Lampe, Tim Schmoll, Alexandra Franzke, Klaus Reinhold. Staying tuned: grasshoppers from noisy roadside habitats produce courtship signals with elevated frequency components. Functional Ecology, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12000

Cite This Page:

Wiley. "Grasshoppers change their tune to stay tuned over traffic noise." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121113214935.htm>.
Wiley. (2012, November 13). Grasshoppers change their tune to stay tuned over traffic noise. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121113214935.htm
Wiley. "Grasshoppers change their tune to stay tuned over traffic noise." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121113214935.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

Buzz60 (Dec. 22, 2014) A new species of fish is discovered living five miles beneath the ocean surface, making it the deepest living fish on earth. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins