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Remembrance of things past influences how female field crickets select mates
Date:4/21/2009

RIVERSIDE, Calif. UC Riverside biologists researching the behavior of field crickets have found for the first time that female crickets remember attractive males based on the latter's song, and use this information when choosing mates.

The researchers found that female crickets compare the information about the attractiveness of available males around them with other incoming signals when selecting attractive males for mating.

The finding shows that social learning the ability to learn information from other individuals of the same species has profound impacts on insect behavior and may act as a linchpin in evolution.

Study results appear today in the latest online issue of the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

"Most people would never have imagined that insects could remember characteristics about other individuals around them," said Nathan W. Bailey, the first author of the research paper and a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Marlene Zuk, a professor of biology at UCR. "The vast majority of studies of insect learning focus on foraging behavior, and in non-social insects like field crickets it is truly a surprise to find that they can change their behavior based on remembered social information.

"Usually, we think of evolutionary pressure, or selection, as a force in the physical environment like climate or food availability. But our research shows that the social environment animals experience is an important force, too. Social effects should therefore be given greater attention in models of evolution in species ranging from insects to humans."

Among field crickets, males use song as a long-range signal to attract females for mating. The females hear the males' song before th
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert

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