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Lab group's discovery of purring crickets leads to real-time investigation of rapid evolution

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Last summer, while on a research excursion to the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i, ecology and evolution professor Dr. Robin Tinghitella and her colleagues identified a newly-evolved, novel characteristic in a group of Pacific field crickets (Teleogryllus oceanicus). Male crickets are singing a brand new song.

Until recently, the Tinghitella lab's research has been focused on a sub-group of T. oceanicus that lost the ability to sing to attract mates. Last year, they discovered a new signal ("purring" songs) that launches their research into unknown territory while they turn their attention to the implications. "We are now able to track how evolution will shape a brand new sexually-selected characteristic over real time," said Tinghitella. The group, including a former post-doc, graduate students and two undergraduates, will return to the island this December for further data collection.

Read more about these groundbreaking findings on the American Society of Naturalists website. You can also see the full-text article (provided you have access) on The American Naturalist website.