Among grasshoppers, bad singers have little prospects: they put females more off than good singers attract them. This is the result of a recent study by researchers from Berlin.
Which mating partner is the best? To answer this difficult question, female grasshoppers base their decision on the singing skills of their male conspecifics. In the process, the quality of bad singers has much bigger weight than the one of good singers.
The latter has a negligible influence on the decision of females. This is the result of a study by researchers lead by Bernhard Ronacher at the Bernstein Center Berlin and the Humboldt-Universität in Berlin.
The scientists point out that their research results are consistent with current theories of sexual selection: it helps females to avoid time and cost-intensive contacts with unsuitable mating partners—such as with males of other species, which have distinct calling songs.
For the study, the researchers presented female grasshoppers with male calling songs in a sound-isolated chamber. When a female likes a song, it produces a response, which in turn encourages the male in its courtship behavior.
“The animals evaluate song subunits with a more or less constant volume as being most attractive”, explains Jan Clemens, first author of the study. The scientists presented both attractive and non-attractive calling songs to the animals and recorded the female responses to investigate the decision process in the animals.
“We found that especially the beginning of a song has a strong influence on the response of the females,” says Clemens. This could mean that grashopper females are easily coerced into mating with a male after a few good syllables—which contradicts current theories of sexual selection, however. These postulate that females should be choosy and should therefore evaluate well if the males may produce good songs over a longer time period, too.
To unravel the dynamics of decision making in more detail, the researchers analyzed their data using a computational model. This model allowed them to consider further parameters in the analysis of the behavioral data, such as the weight of sensory information in the decision process, or the internal decision threshold of the animal.
“Interestingly, this model provided us with a very different explanation: a bad song has much more weight than a good one during the decision making process. This interpretation is far more consistent with current theories of sexual selection, since it helps to prevent disadventageous mate choices,” says Clemens.
The neuroscientist alludes to the expanded analysis opportunities of computational models. It was the model that helped them to disentangle the behavior of female grashoppers and revealed that the animals are not reacting impulsively to good songs but rather selectively reject “bad” ones.
The Bernstein Center Berlin is part of the National Bernstein Network Computational Neuroscience in Germany. With this funding initiative, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has supported the new discipline of Computational Neuroscience since 2004 with over 180 million Euros. The network is named after the German physiologist Julius Bernstein (1835-1917).
Prof. Dr. Bernhard Ronacher
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Institut für Biologie
Tel: +49 (030) 2093-8806
Dr. Jan Clemens
Princeton Neuroscience Institute and
Department of Molecular Biology
Princeton, NJ (USA) 08544
Tel: +1 (609) 258-7668
J. Clemens, S. Krämer, B. Ronacher (2014): Asymmetrical integration of sensory information during mating decisions in grasshoppers. PNAS, advanced online publication
https://www2.hu-berlin.de/biologie/vhphys webpage Bernhard Ronacher
http://www.princeton.edu/~janc webpage Jan Clemens
http://www.hu-berlin.de Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
http://www.bccn-berlin.de Bernstein Center Berlin
http://www.nncn.de/en National Bernstein Network Computational Neuroscience
Mareike Kardinal | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences
27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences