Nymph of a Bow-winged Grasshopper (Chorthippus biguttulus) in Hamm, Germany.
Ah, spring, when the meadows come alive with the sweet trilling of grasshopper come-ons. The bow-winged grasshopper attracts females with a very specific song—so specific, in fact, that it is the only thing that distinguishes it from related species in the field. In quiet, Alpine grasslands, this system works like a charm. But as urban development encroaches on more of the grasshopper’s habitat, city noise is getting in the way of the grasshoppers getting it on.
Scientists have already determined that some species of birds, mammals, and frogs change their mating calls in response to urban noise. In a new study in Functional Ecology, scientists report that urban-dwelling grasshoppers, as well, have responded by changing parts of their tune to a higher frequency—one more easily differentiated from traffic. Read More