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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Christoph Dieffenbacher | Universität Basel
Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.01.2017 | Information Technology
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering