Competition and cooperationina synchronous bushcricket chorus
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Synchronous signalling within choruses of the same species either emerges from cooperation or competition. In our study on the katydid Mecopoda elongata, we aim to identify mechanisms driving evolution towards synchrony. The increase of signal amplitude owing to synchronous signalling and the preservation of a conspecific signal period may represent cooperative mechanisms, whereas chorus synchrony may also result from the preference of females for leading signals and the resulting competition for the leader role. We recorded the timing of signals and the resulting communal signal amplitudes in small choruses and performed female choice experiments to identify such mechanisms. Males frequently timed their signals either as leader or follower with an average time lag of about 70 ms. Females selected males in such choruses on the basis of signal order and signal duration. Two-choice experiments revealed a time lag of only 70 ms to bias mate choice in favour of the leader.
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