Skip to main content

Data from: Experience modulates an insect’s response to anthropogenic noise

Cite this dataset

Gallego-Abenza, Mario; Mathevon, Nicolas; Wheatcroft, David (2019). Data from: Experience modulates an insect’s response to anthropogenic noise [Dataset]. Dryad.


In response to anthropogenic noise, vertebrates express modified acoustic communication signals either through individual plasticity or local population adaptation. In contrast, how insects respond to this stressor is poorly studied. Field crickets Gryllus bimaculatus use acoustic signals to attract and locate mates and are commonly found in noisy roadside environments, offering a powerful system to study the effects of anthropogenic noise on insect communication. Rapid repetition of sexual calls (chirps) is essential to attract females, but calling incurs energetic costs and attracts predators. As a result, males are predicted to reduce calling rates when background noise is high. Here, we combine observations and experimental playbacks to show that the responses of Field cricket males to anthropogenic noise also depend on their previous experience with passing cars. First, we show that males living on highway edges decrease their chirp rate in response to passing cars. To assess whether this behavioural response depends on previous exposure to car noise, we then broadcast recordings of car noise to males located at different distances from the road and, therefore, with different previous exposure to car noise. Although all tested individuals responded to broadcasted traffic noise, males closest to the road decreased their chirp rate less than individuals calling further from the road. These results suggest that regular exposure to anthropogenic noise may decrease individuals' sensitivity and behavioural responses to noise, allowing them to maintain effective signalling rates. Behavioural plasticity modulated by experience may thus allow some insect species to cope with human-induced environmental stressors.

Usage notes