Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Cicada Species Discovered in Switzerland and Italy

24.02.2015

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


Captured for science: Male (above) and female specimen of the newly discovered Mountain Cicada species.

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.

Original source

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

Further information

Thomas Hertach, University of Basel, Biogeography, Tel. +41 (0)78 684 95 73, Email: thomas.hertach@unibas.ch

Weitere Informationen:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/zoj.12212/abstract - Abstract

Christoph Dieffenbacher | Universität Basel
Further information:
http://www.unibas.ch

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>