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Behavioral Studies of Cricket Phonotaxis

Behavioral Studies of Cricket Phonotaxis

Supervisors: Dr Berthold Hedwig


Project summary:

Female crickets are attracted by the continuous calling songs of males. As different species used different song patterns, the female pattern recognition system must be adapted to the temporal pattern of the male song. The lab has a sophisticated trackball system that allows studying the fine details of cricket phonotactic behaviour.

We can present different computer generated signals. We can provide a dynamic stimulus situation, in which the sound source is moving around the phonotactically orienting female and we can trace the movements of individual legs using high speed video recordings. All these methods contribute to a detailed analysis of the animal’s auditory behaviour – besides the neurobiological studies. 


What the student will be doing:

There are interesting questions for challenging projects on cricket phonotactic behaviour like:

- What is the temporal tuning of pattern recognition in different species?

- What is the neurochemical basis of phonotaxis? How is phonotaxis controlled by neuromodulators?

- What evidence do we have for male phonotaxis?

- Do all species of crickets show rapid reactive steering behaviour? 



Hedwig, B and JFA Poulet (2004) Complex auditory behaviour emerges from simple reactive steering. Nature 430: 781-785

Hedwig B (2014) Towards an understanding of the neural basis of acoustic communication in crickets. In: B Hedwig (ed) Insect Hearing and Acoustic Communication. Springer, pp: 123-143

Schöneich S and Hedwig B (2010) Hyperacute directional hearing and phonotactic steering in the cricket (Gryllus bimaculatus deGeer), PLoS-ONE 5(12): e15141. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015141.