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Scientists study how two species of tree crickets stay separate

Read time: 2 mins

Have you ever been away from the city, away from the bustling activities and clattering? If you have, then, without all the noises of the city to distract you, you might have noticed how loud a seemingly empty field is! Birds, frogs and insects all join in on this chorus. The animals making these calls need to invest time and energy into making them, and hence are made for specific reasons, where every call counts.  Often, in the animal kingdom these vocalisations are used to attract potential mating partners. To be heard by a female frog, the male of the species must not only compete with other members of the same species, but also ensure that his song stands out in the surrounding uproar. How an individual of one species positions itself, changes the timing or the nature of its call are all factors that have been studied by scientists. In a recent study from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore researchers have explored how the timing of the calls of two species of tree cricket has ensured their reproductive isolation. Studying the tree crickets Oecanthus henryi and Oecanthus indicus, the researchers used a statistical model to study how an individual respond to calls made in its surroundings. Their findings from the field showed that individuals belonging to the same species responded more strongly to call of their own species than the statistical model predicted. Similarly, individuals belonging to different species responded poorly to the call of the other species than predicted by the model. This research indicates the crucial role acoustic signals play in the reproductive isolation species in the wild. It also shows that animals may be better at recognizing members of their own species, than we predicted.