The Pacific field cricket has been introduced to Hawaii, where it is subject to a parasitoid fly that finds its host by listening to the calling song of the male crickets and depositing larvae that burrow inside the cricket and eventually kill it. This puts the cricket in a dilemma, because calling is his means to attract a mate, but also places him in danger. In some Hawaiian populations, 50-90% of the male crickets now have a mutated wing that lacks the apparatus necessary for calling. They are thus unable to call, which protects them from the fly, but they then face challenges attracting a mate. This project examines the consequences of such extraordinarily rapid evolution (the change occurred over 16-20 generations) for the mating behavior of the crickets. The hypothesis for the ability of this novel mutation to become established is that pre-existing behavioral plasticity has enabled the silent crickets to achieve reproductive success. The mutation and its effects will be monitored in the field, and laboratory experiments will examine how early experience with the acoustic environment influences mating behavior. During presentations to university students and the public this research provides a compelling introduction to many topics in evolutionary biology and animal behavior because it features familiar animals ? crickets ? in an attractive place ? Hawaii ? evading an unpleasant ?Alien?-like parasite via natural selection, which then places the males in a dilemma with regard to reproduction.

Agency
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Institute
Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS)
Type
Standard Grant (Standard)
Application #
1122244
Program Officer
Michelle M. Elekonich
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
2011-08-01
Budget End
2012-10-31
Support Year
Fiscal Year
2011
Total Cost
$300,000
Indirect Cost
Name
University of California Riverside
Department
Type
DUNS #
City
Riverside
State
CA
Country
United States
Zip Code
92521