The effect of gregarine parasite infections, age, and diet on calling song structure and mating behaviour in the Texas field cricket, Gryllus integer
Proctor, Leslie Elizabeth.
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In the past ten years, many researchers have focussed their attention on parasites regarding the role they may play in causing variations in male secondary sexual traits and subsequent effects on female choice. Male age has also been suggested to be an important factor in female choice if old age reflects superior genes. This study investigated the effects that gregarine gut parasites, age, and diet have on the calling and mating behaviour of the male Texas field cricket, Gryllus integer. Male calling songs were recorded in the laboratory using a Digital Signal Processing Network. The song parameters measured were: pulse rate, pulse width, burst duration, pulses per burst, interburst interval, and percent missing pulses. The effects of parasite load and age on the various calling song parameters was investigated in crickets that were fed two different diets varying in nutritional quality. None of the calling song parameters were affected by either parasite load or age in either diet grou p. Courtship behaviour was ob served and recorded using an Eventlog recorder on an IBM computer in the laboratory. Females mated equally with paras(tized and unparasitized males and with old and young males The total duration and proportion of time spent performing each of 9 courtship displays were recorded for males on each diet. Only one display was affected by parasite load. Highly parasitized males fed the nutritionally inferior diet juddered for a proportionately shorter time than males with low parasite loads. Also, older males performed juddering and shaking antennae proportionally longer and juddering and raising wings for longer durations than younger males. Males that successfully mated were observed for performance of 8 post-copulatory guarding behaviour displays. None of the guarding behaviours were affected by parasite load. However, one display was affected by age, with older males performing guard turning for shorter durations than younger males. Results are discuss,ed in terms of the influence of parasites and age on female choice.