Duetting in insects-does call length influence reply latency?

Win Bailey, T.J. Hammond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


A meta-analysis of the duetting patterns of insect taxa that signal by bioluminescence, substrate vibration, or sound was used to test the prediction that call length by the initiating male influences the latency of reply of the female. There was a significant and positive relationship between these two measures. Although tests on the entire dataset did not consider phylogeny, when all members of one sub-family of bushcricket, the Phaneropterinae, were isolated there was a significant and positive relationship between call length and reply latency. Two explanations are suggested. First, the female must wait for the conclusion of a long and potentially variable message; there is uncertainty as to when the call has finished before she can reply. Second, is the requirement of the female to process information; a longer male call, with more information requires more processing than a brief call. The authors suggest that long reply latencies may be vulnerable to intrusion by competing mates. One defensive tactic of potential female partners is to insert a trigger pulse that indicates to the female when the long and complex call has concluded. This behaviour may be considered as acoustic mate guarding and one example is given of this behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-274
JournalJournal of Zoology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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