High mating success in animals is often dependent on males signalling attractively with high effort. Since males should be selected to maximize their reproductive success, female preferences for these traits should result in minimal signal variation persisting in the population. However, extensive signal variation persists. The genic capture hypothesis proposes genetic variation persists because fitness-conferring traits depend on an individual's basic processes, including underlying physiological, morphological, and biochemical traits, which are themselves genetically variable. To explore the traits underlying signal variation, we quantified among-male differences in signalling, morphology, energy stores, and the activities of key enzymes associated with signalling muscle metabolism in two species of crickets, Gryllus assimilis (chirper: < 20 pulses/chirp) and G. texensis (triller: <20 pulses/chirp). Chirping G. assimilis primarily fuelled signalling with carbohydrate metabolism: smaller individuals and individuals with increased thoracic glycogen stores signalled for mates with greater effort; individuals with greater glycogen phosphorylase activity produced more attractive mating signals. Conversely, the more energetic trilling G. texensis fuelled signalling with both lipid and carbohydrate metabolism: individuals with increased b-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase activity and increased thoracic free carbohydrate content signalled for mates with greater effort; individuals with higher thoracic and abdominal carbohydrate content and higher abdominal lipid stores produced more attractive signals. Our findings suggest variation in male reproductive success may be driven by hidden physiological trade-offs that affect the ability to uptake, retain, and use essential nutrients, although the results remain correlational in nature. Our findings indicate that a physiological perspective may help us to understand some of the causes of variation in behaviour.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0090409
Journal PLoS ONE
Thomson, I.R. (Ian R.), Darveau, C.-A. (Charlesa -A.), & Bertram, S.M. (2014). Body morphology, energy stores, and muscle enzyme activity explain cricket acoustic mate attraction signaling variation. PLoS ONE, 9(3). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090409