Female greater wax moths reduce sexual display behavior in relation to the potential risk of predation by echolocating bats

Jones, Gareth, Barabas, Anna, Elliot, Wendy, & Parsons, Stuart (2002) Female greater wax moths reduce sexual display behavior in relation to the potential risk of predation by echolocating bats. Behavioural Ecology, 13(3), pp. 375-380.

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Female greater wax moths Galleria mellonella display by wing fanning in response to bursts of ultrasonic calls produced by males. The temporal and spectral characteristics of these calls show some similarities with the echolocation calls of bats that emit frequency-modulated (FM) signals. Female G. mellonella therefore need to distinguish between the attractive signals of male conspecifics, which may lead to mating opportunities, and similar sounds made by predatory bats. We therefore predicted that (1) females would display in response to playbacks of male calls; (2) females would not display in response to playbacks of the calls of echolocating bats (we used the calls of Daubenton's bat Myotis daubentonii as representative of a typical FM echolocating bat); and (3) when presented with male calls and bat calls during the same time block, females would display more when perceived predation risk was lower. We manipulated predation risk in two ways. First, we varied the intensity of bat calls to represent a nearby (high risk) or distant (low risk) bat. Second, we played back calls of bats searching for prey (low risk) and attacking prey (high risk). All predictions were supported, suggesting that female G. mellonella are able to distinguish conspecific male mating calls from bat calls, and that they modify display rate in relation to predation risk. The mechanism (s) by which the moths separate the calls of bat and moth must involve temporal cues. Bat and moth signals differ considerably in duration, and differences in duration could be encoded by the moth's nervous system and used in discrimination.

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ID Code: 79781
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: bats ; echolocation ; mating behavior ; moths ; predation risk ; ultrasound
DOI: 10.1093/beheco/13.3.375
ISSN: 1045-2249
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2002 International Society for Behavioral Ecology
Deposited On: 21 Jan 2015 01:59
Last Modified: 21 Jan 2015 01:59

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