Science Daily: Grasshoppers Change Their Tune to Stay Tuned Over Traffic Noise


Photo Credit: cougar.collegiate-va.org 

Grasshoppers are having to change their song — one of the iconic sounds of summer — to make themselves heard above the din of road traffic, ecologists have discovered. The study, published in the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology, is the first to show that human-made noise affects natural insect populations.

Animals use sound to communicate for many reasons, including marking out territory, warning of predators and finding mates, and although previous research shows birds, whales and even frogs alter their calls in noisy environments, the impact of human-made noise on insects has been neglected until now. Ulrike Lampe and colleagues from the University of Bielefeld in Germany caught 188 male bow-winged grasshoppers (Chorthippus biguttulus), half from quiet locations and half from beside busy roads. The grasshoppers use their song — produced by rubbing a toothed file on their hind legs against a protruding vein on their front wings — to attract mates.

 

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