Sexual signal loss in field crickets maintained despite strong sexual selection favoring singing males

Jessie C. Tanner, Elizabeth Swanger, Marlene Zuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Evolutionary biologists commonly seek explanations for how selection drives the emergence of novel traits. Although trait loss is also predicted to occur frequently, few contemporary examples exist. In Hawaii, the Pacific field cricket (Teleogryllus oceanicus) is undergoing adaptive sexual signal loss due to natural selection imposed by eavesdropping parasitoids. Mutant male crickets (“flatwings”) cannot sing. We measured the intensity of sexual selection on wing phenotype in a wild population. First, we surveyed the relative abundance of flatwings and “normal-wings” (nonmutants) on Oahu. Then, we bred wild-mated females’ offspring to determine both female genotype with respect to the flatwing mutation and the proportion of flatwing males that sired their offspring. We found evidence of strong sexual selection favoring the production of song: females were predominantly homozygous normal-wing, their offspring were sired disproportionately by singing males, and at the population level, flatwing males became less common following a single sexual selection event. We report a selection coefficient describing the total (pre- and postcopulatory) sexual selection favoring normal-wing males in nature. Given the maintenance of the flatwing phenotype in Hawaii in recent years, this substantial sexual selection additionally suggests an approximate strength of opposing natural selection that favors silent males.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1482-1489
Number of pages8
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2019


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