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Good Vibrations

A visit with Rex Cocroft, Assistant Professor of Biology

By LuAnne Roth
Published: - Topics: communication vibrations biology insects

How tree-hopper communication signals evolve and influence species evolution

Topics: animals speciation

With the tree-hoppers Cocroft demonstrates how sexual reproduction relies on elaborate communication. The vibrational signals sent through the stems and leaves of plants are “very important in mate choice.”

If the signals of two populations of the same species diverge for some reason, individuals from one group may be less likely to recognize individuals from the other group as mating material – “and these can eventually become separate gene pools, whereas if their signals stay the same they are likely to interbreed. That’s a very strong homogenizing force that can prevent them from differentiating into different species.”