Two species of closely related wood cricket, Gryllus fultoni (Orthoptera: Gryllidae) and Gryllus vernalis, occur together in some parts of the eastern United States and have a similar calling song structure, consisting of three-pulse chirps. A previous study revealed that chirp rate in G. fultoni was highest (greatest difference vis-à-vis chirp rate in G. vernalis) in sympatric populations, intermediate in near allopatric populations that were located close to the sympatric zone, and lowest in allopatric populations. A similar trend was observed in pulse rate, but the mean values of this trait showed much more convergence than chirp rate at the low end of the range of calling temperatures. In this study, we investigated the song discrimination of females from sympatric and allopatric populations of G. fultoni at about 23°C, which is near the middle of the normal range of calling temperatures. We used both single-stimulus and two-stimulus playback experiments to learn if geographical differences in song preferences paralleled those in calling songs. Stimuli presented were representative of calling songs in three classes of G. fultoni populations (sympatric, near allopatric, and far allopatric), a calling song of G. vernalis, and three calling songs with parameter values that were intermediate with respect to those of the songs of far allopatric G. fultoni and G. vernalis. In the single-stimulus playbacks, females of all G. fultoni populations responded poorly if at all to the heterospecific stimulus. Females of sympatric and near allopatric populations responded poorly to all intermediate stimuli, but females of far allopatric populations frequently responded to these sounds. In the two-stimulus playbacks, females of sympatric and near allopatric populations generally discriminated against intermediate and heterospecific stimuli. However, females of far allopatric populations often did not discriminate against intermediate stimuli, whose characteristics resembled the calling songs of G. vernalis. The divergent pattern of female phonotactic discrimination between sympatric and far allopatric populations was thus generally congruent with the pattern of divergence in chirp and pulse rates and would be expected to significantly reduce heterospecific mating in sympatry. These geographical patterns of female song discrimination and male calling songs conform to a commonly used definition of reproductive character displacement.
- Female song discrimination
- Gryllus fultoni
- Gryllus vernalis
- Reproductive character displacement
- Reproductive isolation