John Stout (Biology)
Social environment and hormonal control: Their effects on the roles auditory neurons play in regulating phonotactic behavior by female crickets
The recognition of a male’s calls by female crickets and the resulting orientation toward the source of these calls (phonotaxis) illuminates the roles that identified neurons play in controlling behavior. To better understand the control of this behavior, we have studied the European cricket, Gryllus bimaculatus for three very important reasons: 1. This species has been foundational for modeling the regulation of the female’s phonotactic behavior; 2. The results reported in the literature are quite different from those we have just published for this and 3 related species; 3. Our work with this species shows neuronal processing (new paper accepted for publication following revisions) that is clearly involved in controlling the female’s phonotactic behavior (Samuel, MS thesis, to be submitted for publication during 2012). Juvenile hormone III (JHIII – the sex hormone) injections into female G.b. immediately effect the female’s behavioral “choosiness” for a male’s call and, based on current research, the response characteristics of auditory neurons that control the female’s responses to the call. The research proposed will continue to carefully evaluate the interaction of 2 pairs of different, identified auditory neurons in controlling the female’s “choosiness” for and orientation to the male’s calling song (CS – a sexual signal that identifies the male and its’ location). This will be especially focused on just discovered changes in the response characteristics of these controlling auditory neurons, that result from having or not having males present. The influences of JHIII, on the social effects of having males present will also be carefully evaluated.