Behavioural plasticity compensates for adaptive loss of cricket song

Will Schneider*, Christian Rutz, Nathan William Bailey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Behavioural flexibility might help animals cope with costs of genetic variants under selection, promoting genetic adaptation. However, it has proven challenging to experimentally link behavioural flexibility to the predicted compensation of population-level fitness. We tested this prediction using the field cricket Teleogryllus oceanicus. In Hawaiian populations, a mutation silences males and protects against eavesdropping parasitoids. To examine how the loss of this critical acoustic communication signal impacts offspring production and mate location, we developed a high- resolution, individual-based tracking system for low-light, naturalistic conditions. Offspring production did not differ significantly in replicate silent versus singing populations, and fitness compensation in silent conditions was associated with significantly increased locomotion in both sexes. Our results provide evidence that flexible behaviour can promote genetic adaptation via compensation in reproductive output and suggest that rapid evolution of animal communication systems may be less constrained than previously appreciated.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14404
Number of pages9
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number3
Early online date22 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2024


  • Adaptation
  • Behavioural plasticity
  • Evolutionary rescue
  • Movement ecology
  • Phenotypic accomodation
  • Trait loss


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