Data from: Tree crickets optimize the acoustics of baffles to exaggerate their mate-attraction signal
Mhatre, Natasha et al. (2018), Data from: Tree crickets optimize the acoustics of baffles to exaggerate their mate-attraction signal, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.f9011
Object manufacture in insects is typically inherited, and believed to be highly stereotyped. Optimization, the ability to select the functionally best material and modify it appropriately for a specific function, implies flexibility and is usually thought to be incompatible with inherited behaviour. Here we show that tree-crickets optimize acoustic baffles, objects that are used to increase the effective loudness of mate-attraction calls. We quantified the acoustic efficiency of all baffles within the naturally feasible design space using finite-element modelling and found that design affects efficiency significantly. We tested the baffle-making behaviour of tree crickets in a series of experimental contexts. We found that given the opportunity, tree crickets optimised baffle acoustics; they selected the best sized object and modified it appropriately to make a near optimal baffle. Surprisingly, optimization could be achieved in a single attempt, and is likely to be achieved through an inherited yet highly accurate behavioural heuristic.