Daily Signaling Rate and the Duration of Sound per Signal are Negatively Related in Neotropical Forest Katydids

Laurel B. Symes, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Tony Robillard, Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle
Sharon J. Martinson, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Jiajia Dong, Xuzhou Medical University
Ciara E. Kernan, Dartmouth College
Colleen R. Miller, Cornell University
Hannah M. Ter Hofstede, Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Researchers have long examined the structure of animal advertisement signals, but comparatively little is known about how often these signals are repeated and what factors predict variation in signaling rate across species. Here, we focus on acoustic advertisement signals to test the hypothesis that calling males experience a tradeoff between investment in the duration or complexity of individual calls and investment in signaling over long time periods. This hypothesis predicts that the number of signals that a male produces per 24 h will negatively correlate with (1) the duration of sound that is produced in each call (the sum of all pulses) and (2) the number of sound pulses per call. To test this hypothesis, we measured call parameters and the number of calls produced per 24 h in 16 species of sympatric phaneropterine katydids from the Panamanian rainforest. This assemblage also provided us with the opportunity to test a second taxonomically specific hypothesis about signaling rates in taxa such as phaneropterine katydids that transition from advertisement calls to mating duets to facilitate mate localization. To establish duets, male phaneropterine katydids call and females produce a short acoustic reply. These duets facilitate searching by males, females, or both sexes, depending on the species. We test the hypothesis that males invest either in calling or in searching for females. This hypothesis predicts a negative relationship between how often males signal over 24 h and how much males move across the landscape relative to females. For the first hypothesis, there was a strong negative relationship between the number of signals and the duration of sound that is produced in each signal, but we find no relationship between the number of signals produced per 24 h and the number of pulses per signal. This result suggests the presence of cross-taxa tradeoffs that limit signal production and duration, but not the structure of individual signals. These tradeoffs could be driven by energetic limitations, predation pressure, signal efficacy, or other signaling costs. For the second hypothesis, we find a negative relationship between the number of signals produced per day and proportion of the light trap catch that is male, likely reflecting males investing either in calling or in searching. These cross-taxa relationships point to the presence of pervasive trade-offs that fundamentally shape the spatial and temporal dynamics of communication.