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Evolution silences some isle cricket populations

By Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 09:32 p.m. HST, May 31, 2014


Scientists investigating the silence of the crickets in Hawaii have uncovered a bizarre evolutionary story that is part horror movie, part Cyrano de Bergerac.

In the most recent edition of the journal Current Biology, researchers from Scotland's University of St. Andrews report on the separate but nearly simultaneous quieting of chirping crickets on Kauai and Oahu.

As lead researcher Nathan Bailey explained, Hawaii crickets appear to have abandoned their chirplike mating songs to avoid parasitoid flies. The flies, which are attracted to male cricket song, would lay larvae that would then burrow into the host crickets, killing them within a week. 

Adaptive crickets survived and reproduced by silencing their own songs but positioning themselves -- like Christian to Cyrano -- next to crickets who continued to use their chirps to woo female crickets.

The silent flatwing crickets are present on both Oahu and Kauai. At first, Bailey and his team believed that a single population of silent crickets evolved on one island and spread to the other. However, further investigation made it clear that the crickets came from separate populations but adopted the same trait around the same time.

"This is an exciting opportunity to detect genomic evolution in real time in a wild system, which has usually been quite an challenge owing to the long timescales over which evolution acts," Bailey said in a release. "With the crickets, we can act as relatively unobtrusive observers while the drama unfolds in the wild."






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HanabataDays wrote:
This is a most excellent strategy with only one flaw left to overcome. Sooner or later the "Cyranos" will all be silenced -- unlike the story, where Christian was the first to check out -- and as you may recall, neither ended up with Roxane, who became a nun! Future survival, though, may depend on producing Roxanes who aren't quite so particular when it comes to being wooed!
on June 1,2014 | 01:27AM
MillionMonkeys wrote:
Easily fixed, by movie directors who'll turn it into a nice Hollywood ending. Silent Cricket gets the gal!
on June 1,2014 | 07:31AM
MillionMonkeys wrote:
Would be nice if this could happen with coqui frogs. Sic some parasitoid flies on the noisy critters!
on June 1,2014 | 07:43AM
cojef wrote:
No wooing aloud. (allowed)
on June 1,2014 | 07:50AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Once upon a time, some male crickets on Kauai noticed that they were being attacked by parasitoid flies whenever they chirped. So one cricket, using its massive brain with the power to reason, said to another, “Let’s evolve so we no longer chirp to avoid becoming victims of the flies.” It took a lot of training, practice and time, but amazingly, some of the male crickets actually evolved to the non-chirping kind. Not all male crickets got the word and continued to be victimized by the flies when they chirped. The evolved non-chirping male crickets notice this and correctly reasoned they could survive and reproduce by positioning themselves next to the male chirpers, and they lived happily ever after.
on June 1,2014 | 09:48AM
soundofreason wrote:
So, they continue to survive based on the efforts of others. Do bugs belong to political parties?
on June 1,2014 | 10:28AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Once upon a time, some male crickets on Kauai noticed that they were being attacked by parasitoid flies whenever they chirped. So one cricket, using its massive brain with the power to reason, suggested to another that they evolve so they no longer chirp to avoid becoming victims of the flies. It took a lot of training, practice and time, but amazingly, some of the male crickets actually evolved to the non-chirping kind. Not all male crickets got the word and continued to be victimized by the flies when they chirped. The evolved non-chirping male crickets notice this and correctly reasoned they could survive and reproduce by positioning themselves next to the male chirpers, and they lived happily ever after.
on June 1,2014 | 10:34AM
Ronin006 wrote:
My two comments above were sent for approval. Perhaps the scientists who discovered the alleged evolution of crickets on Kauai can explain why.
on June 1,2014 | 08:03PM
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