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
NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation
Pollen taxi for bacteria
18.07.2018 | Technische Universität München
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
18.07.2018 | Life Sciences
18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine