It’s the Little Things in (a Grasshopper’s) Life: How the Carolina Grasshopper Visually Signals to Conspecifics While Minimizing Predation Risk
Name: Claire Lynn Campbell
Major: Neuroscience (Biology)
Advisors: Nicholas Brandley, Jennifer Ison
The Carolina grasshopper, Dissosteira carolina, has coarse vision due to its compound eyes. This may hinder the distance at which they can use visual signals, an important component of their communication between conspecifics. The main predator of grasshoppers, birds, have relatively high visual acuities, making these visual signals a seemingly dangerous activity. Therefore, how do these grasshoppers visually signal to each other while maintaining a low level of interception by predators? To explore this question, I studied 1) the temporal aspects of the signals through high-speed videos, 2) the colors of the hindlegs through comparative visual modeling, 3) the active signaling space of the femur patterning through size measurements of the legs, and 4) the distance between grasshoppers and frequency of signaling through behavioral observations. I found that the size and color of the legs may allow for an inconspicuous signal when occurring at the high speeds the grasshoppers use and that the grasshoppers have a relatively tiny active signaling space, both experimentally and observationally determined. Taken together, this could mean that Carolina grasshoppers are able to overcome their coarse vision and predatory dangers to visually signal to conspecifics both effectively and efficiently.
Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2023 on April 12, 2023.
6 responses to “It’s the Little Things in (a Grasshopper’s) Life: How the Carolina Grasshopper Visually Signals to Conspecifics While Minimizing Predation Risk”
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Dear Claire – What a fascinating project. I am sure that as I observe grasshoppers this summer, I will be thinking of this work – bringing a new appreciation to such observations!
Enjoy symposium day!
Congratulations Claire! What a big accomplishment:)
Thanks so much, Jilly!
Glad you enjoyed it. I definitely have a different appreciation for these little guys!