Developmental Experience with Anthropogenic Noise Hinders Adult Mate Location in an Acoustically Signalling Invertebrate

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Biological Sciences


Anthropogenic noise, Behaviour, Developmental plasticity, Mate location, Orthoptera


Phenotypic plasticity facilitates survival and reproduction in rapidly changing and novel environments. Traffic noise spectrally overlaps with (i.e. masks) the sounds used by many acoustically signalling organisms to locate and secure mates. To determine if pre-reproductive exposure to noise improves adult performance in noisy environments, we reared field crickets (Teleogryllus oceanicus) in one of three noise environments: masking traffic noise, traffic noise from which frequencies that spectrally overlap with the crickets' song were removed (non-masking), or silence. At reproductive maturity, we tested female mate location ability under one of the same three acoustic conditions. We found that exposure to noise during rearing hindered female location of mates, regardless of the acoustic environment at testing. Females reared in masking noise took 80% longer than females reared in silence to locate a simulated singing male who was less than 1 m away. Impaired mate location ability can be added to a growing list of fitness costs associated with anthropogenic noise, alongside reductions in pairing success, nesting success and offspring survival.

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