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J Insect Physiol. 2005 Jul;51(7):737-47.

Stimuli inducing gregarious colouration and behaviour in nymphs of Schistocerca gregaria.

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Department of Zoology and University Museum of Natural History, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK.


Solitarious nymphs of Schistocerca gregaria were reared under various conditions in both Jerusalem and Oxford to tease apart cues involved in behavioural and colour phase change. Treatments included rearing nymphs from the IInd or IIIrd until the final nymphal stadium in physical contact with similarly aged conspecific groups or with another locust species, Locusta migratoria migratorioides, as well as confining single nymphs in mesh cages, which were kept within crowds of S. gregaria or L. migratoria migratorioides, providing visual and olfactory but no physical contact with other locusts. In the Oxford experiments, an extra treatment was included which provided olfactory cues without visual or contact stimulation. Our results confirm that transformation from the solitarious to the gregarious phase of locusts is complex, and that different phase characteristics not only follow different time courses, but are also controlled by different suites of cues. As predicted from earlier studies, behavioural phase change was evoked by non-species-specific cues. Rearing in contact with either species was fully effective in inducing gregarious behaviour, as was the combination of the sight and smell of other locusts, but odour alone was ineffective. Colour phase change was shown to comprise two distinct elements that could be dissociated: black patterning and yellow background. The former of these could be induced as effectively by rearing S. gregaria nymphs in a crowd of L. migratoria migratorioides as by rearing with conspecifics. Sight and smell of other locusts also triggered black patterning and, unlike behavioural change, some black patterning was induced by odour cues alone. Hence, physical contact was not needed to induce gregarious black patterning. Yellow colouration, however, was only fully induced when locusts were reared in contact with conspecifics, implying the presence of a species-specific contact chemical cue.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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