Novel system of communication in crickets originated at the same time as bat echolocation and includes male-male multimodal communication

Jose Luis Benavides-Lopez, Sorbonne Université
Hannah ter Hofstede, Faculty of Arts & Sciences
Tony Robillard, Sorbonne Université


Understanding the evolutionary origins of communication signals requires careful study of multiple species within a known phylogenetic framework. Most cricket species produce low-frequency calls for mate attraction, whereas they startle to high-frequency sounds similar to bat echolocation. Male crickets in the tribe Lebinthini produce high-frequency calls, to which females reply with vibrational signals. This novel communication system likely evolved by male sensory exploitation of acoustic startle to high-frequency sounds in females. This behavior was previously described for the Lebinthini from Asia. Here we demonstrate that this novel communication system is found in a Neotropical species, Ponca hebardi, and is therefore likely shared by the whole tribe Lebinthini, dating the origin of this behavior to coincide with the origin of echolocation in bats. Furthermore, we document male duets involving both acoustic and vibratory signals not previously described in crickets, and we tentatively interpret it as competitive masking between males.