Tue19Nov20196:00 pmUptown Coffee, 265 North Lamar Blvd, Oxford, Mississippi
Oxford Science Cafe
Dr. Susan Balenger
Department of Biology,
University of Mississippi
The Silence of the Crickets: Rapid, Repeated Loss of Sexual Signals in Hawaii
Charles Darwin was convinced that biological evolution only occurred over long geologic timespans. More recently, though, researchers have been watching and documenting evolutionary changes happening over human timescales. Dr. Susan Balenger studies one particularly dramatic example of rapid evolution amongst wild populations of field crickets on the islands of Hawaii: following the introduction of a parasitic fly, local male crickets lost their ability to chirp. Unfortunately for these males, chirping is how they attract mates. And all of this happened in less than 5 years - the blink of an eye in evolutionary terms. Dr. Balenger will discuss how and why interactions between these species could produce silent crickets, the ways that cricket mating behaviors have subsequently changed, and what it is like to watch evolution in action.