Temporal partitioning of Bullacris unicolor (Orthoptera: Pneumoridae) calling activity to avoid predation

Robyn Manuel, Tarné Johannes, Rekha Sathyan & Vanessa Cathrine Kemsley Couldridge (2023). Temporal partitioning of Bullacris unicolor (Orthoptera: Pneumoridae) calling activity to avoid predation. Bioacoustics, Volume 32 (4): 373 -386

Ecological interactions, including competition, predation, and environmental conditions, may significantly impact acoustic signalling behaviour. Here we characterise nocturnal signalling patterns in the bladder grasshopper Bullacris unicolor and relate this to biotic and abiotic factors, thus providing insights into ecological drivers of acoustic signalling behaviour. Passive acoustic recorders monitored nocturnal calling activity of the focal species, competitors, and predatory bats across the distribution of B. unicolor. Results indicate that B. unicolor calls preferentially at certain times of the night, but that peak activity period varies across the geographic range. There was a strong relationship between B. unicolor activity and bat activity. Bullacris unicolor populations further north showed an overall avoidance of bat echolocation call period, whereas further south an overlapping of call periods between B. unicolor and bat echolocation was observed. Bats at northern sites showed a distinct activity period early in the night and B. unicolor may thus reduce predation risk by shifting signalling activity to later in the night. In contrast, bats were active throughout the night at southern sites and B. unicolor did not delay calling activity in this region of its distribution, although the species did shift signalling slightly to reduce peak overlap with co-existing pneumorid species.


Bat echolocation, bioacoustics, bladder grasshopper, predator avoidance strategies