Theoretically, sexual signals should provide honest information about mating benefits and many sexually reproducing species use honest signals when signalling to potential mates. Male crickets produce two types of acoustic mating signals: a long-distance mate attraction call and a short-range courtship call. We tested whether wild-caught fall field cricket (Gryllus pennsylvanicus) males in high condition (high residual mass or large body size) produce higher effort calls (in support of the honest signalling hypothesis). We also tested an alternative hypothesis, whether low condition males produce higher effort calls (in support of the terminal investment hypothesis). Several components of long-distance mate attraction calls honestly reflected male body size, with larger males producing louder mate attraction calls at lower carrier frequencies. Long-distance mate attraction chirp rate dishonestly signalled body size, with small males producing faster chirp rates. Short-range courtship calls dishonestly reflected male residual mass, as chirp rate and pulse rate were best explained by a curvilinear function of residual mass. By producing long-distance mate attraction calls and courtship calls with similar or higher effort compared to high condition males, low condition males (low residual mass or small body size) may increase their effort in current reproductive success at the expense of their future reproductive success, suggesting that not all sexual signals are honest.
Department of Biology

Bertram, S.M, C.M. Grant (Caitlin M.), Harrison, Sarah J., & Thomson, Ian R. (2013). Calling, Courtship, and Condition in the Fall Field Cricket, Gryllus pennsylvanicus. PLoS ONE, 8(3). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060356