They belong to the best-known, biggest and loudest group of insects – and yet they still manage to surprise: Researchers at the University of Basel have discovered a new singing cicada species in Italy and southern Switzerland. The insect with a wingspan of four centimeters and a high pitch song has been named “Italian Mountain Cicada” (Cicadetta sibillae). It is one of only ten singing cicada species in Switzerland.
With very few distinct morphological characteristics the different species of the Mountain Cicada – a subgroup within the family of the singing cicada – are not easily identified. What ultimately gave away the new species was its song: a complicated pattern where slow phrases alternate with fast and rhythmic ones.
Cicadetta sibillae has a high pitch song and a 4 centimeter wingspan.
University of Basel / Thomas Hertach
For their findings, the researchers analyzed the insects' genes, morphology, and first and foremost their songs. PhD student Thomas Hertach and Prof. Peter Nagel from the research group biogeography at the University of Basel and their colleagues in Slovenia and the U.S. have published their results in the journal Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.
The preferred habitats of the newly discovered Mountain Cicada are sparse, warm deciduous forests and poor grassland with lots of bushes. Sitting in shrubs or on the grass, the insects sing their songs and feed off plant sap. “In the Northern Apennine, Cicadetta sibillae is surprisingly the most common singing cicada found”, says Thomas Hertach, who discovered the new species.
Endangered in southern Switzerland
The distribution areas of the “Italian Mountain Cicada” range from Naples to southern Switzerland; where around a dozen populations live in the region of Ticino and two very small groups in an area called Misox (canton of Grisons). The Ticino population in Monte San Giorgio is one of the richest in individuals across the Alps. In contrast, the species in the canton of Grisons is in danger of extinction. First measures to protect the species are in planning together with the canton and the organization Pro Natura.
The researchers estimate that the new cicada species evolved at least one million years ago during the glacial period and has its origin in mild Italian refugia. All examinations show that the species differs from a closely related species in the Pyrenees from which it lives more than 450 kilometers away. “Because the differences are so small, we had to collect and analyze extensive data material”, says Thomas Hertach, who has dedicated more than a decade to the study of cicadas.
Singing attracts females
Singing cicadas make sounds with a paired set of organs called timbals at the base of their abdomen. Abdominal muscles contract the timbals. Part of the abdomen is hollow and acts as a sound box. Male cicadas use songs to attract females. Each species has its own typical song pattern. The Swiss scientist Johann Jacob Bremi already in 1849 described some varying songs of Mountain Cicadas. Unfortunately, his knowledge was long forgotten: Only recently, beginning in 2000, have acoustic studies revealed that the former European Mountain Cicada is actually a complex of many species.
Hertach T, Trilar T, Wade EJ, Simon C, Nagel P, 2015.
Songs, genetics, and morphology: revealing the taxonomic units in the European Cicadetta cerdaniensis cicada group, with a description of new taxa (Hemiptera: Cicadidae).
Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 173(2): 320-351, Append. S1-3; DOI: 10.1111/zoj.12212
Thomas Hertach, University of Basel, Biogeography, Tel. +41 (0)78 684 95 73, Email: email@example.com
Christoph Dieffenbacher | Universität Basel
Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich
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...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences