Phonotactic walking paths of field crickets in closed-loop conditions and their simulation using a stochastic model.

Research paper by Natasha N Mhatre, Rohini R Balakrishnan

Indexed on: 09 Oct '07Published on: 09 Oct '07Published in: The Journal of experimental biology


Field cricket females localize one of many singing males in the field in closed-loop multi-source conditions. To understand this behaviour, field cricket phonotaxis was investigated in a closed-loop walking phonotaxis paradigm, in response to two simultaneously active speakers playing aphasic calling songs. Female phonotactic paths were oriented towards the louder sound sources, but showed great inter-individual variability. Decisions made in the initial phases were correlated with the overall directions of the paths. Interestingly, the sound pressure levels of stimuli did not greatly influence several features of phonotactic paths such as sinuosity, walking bout lengths and durations. In order to ascertain the extent of our understanding of walking phonotaxis, a stochastic model was used to simulate the behaviour observed in the experiment. The model incorporated data from the experiment and our current understanding of field cricket auditory physiology. This model, based on stochastic turning towards the louder side, successfully recaptured several qualitative and quantitative features of the observed phonotactic paths. The simulation also reproduced the paths observed in a separate outdoor field experiment. Virtual crickets that were unilaterally deafened or had poor ear directionality exhibited walking paths similar to those observed in previous experiments.