Mate choice plasticity in the field cricket Teleogryllus oceanicus: effects of social experience in multiple modalities

Nathan W. Bailey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Social experience can elicit phenotypically plastic changes in mate choice, but little is known about the degree to which social information from one modality can influence mating decisions based on information from a different modality. I used the field cricket Teleogryllus oceanicus to test whether experience of chemical cues mimicking a high density of sexually mature males causes changes in mate choice based on acoustic signals. T. oceanicus males produce long-range calling songs to attract females for mating, but they also produce waxy, non-volatile hydrocarbons on their cuticle (CHCs) which, when deposited on a substrate, can be detected by females and may provide demographic information. I manipulated female experience of substrate-bound male CHCs and then performed acoustic mate choice trials. When CHCs were present on the substrate during trials, females showed greater motivation to respond to male calling song. This effect diminished with repeated exposure to male songs, demonstrating that the importance of olfactory cues in altering acoustic mate choice decreased with increasing exposure to acoustic signals. However, the temporal nature of CHC experience mattered: previous experience of CHCs did not alter subsequent female choice for male calling song traits. Exposure to male song increased the threshold of mate acceptance over time, and individuals varied considerably in overall levels of responsiveness. Taken together, the results demonstrate that mate choice is dependent on social context mediated by multiple modalities in T. oceanicus, but they do not support the idea that prior experience of social cues in one modality necessarily influences later mating decisions based on other signalling modalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2269-2278
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • Female preference
  • Teleogryllus oceanicus
  • Field cricket
  • Multimodal signalling
  • CUES
  • Context-dependent mate choice
  • Mate choice plasticity
  • Female choice


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