Evolution of stridulatory mechanisms: vibroacoustic communication may be common in leaf-footed bugs and allies (Heteroptera: Coreoidea)

R Soc Open Sci. 2023 Apr 26;10(4):221348. doi: 10.1098/rsos.221348. eCollection 2023 Apr.


Intra- and interspecific communication is crucial to fitness via its role in facilitating mating, territoriality and defence. Yet, the evolution of animal communication systems is puzzling-how do they originate and change over time? Studying stridulatory morphology provides a tractable opportunity to deduce the origin and diversification of a communication mechanism. Stridulation occurs when two sclerotized structures rub together to produce vibratory and acoustic (vibroacoustic) signals, such as a cricket 'chirp'. We investigated the evolution of stridulatory mechanisms in the superfamily Coreoidea (Hemiptera: Heteroptera), a group of insects known for elaborate male fighting behaviours and enlarged hindlegs. We surveyed a large sampling of taxa and used a phylogenomic dataset to investigate the evolution of stridulatory mechanisms. We identified four mechanisms, with at least five evolutionary gains. One mechanism, occurring only in male Harmostini (Rhopalidae), is described for the first time. Some stridulatory mechanisms appear to be non-homoplastic apomorphies within Rhopalidae, while others are homoplastic or potentially homoplastic within Coreidae and Alydidae, respectively. We detected no losses of these mechanisms once evolved, suggesting they are adaptive. Our work sets the stage for further behavioural, evolutionary and ecological studies to better understand the context in which these traits evolve and change.

Keywords: Alydidae; Coreidae; phylogeny; sequence capture; stridulation; ultraconserved elements.

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.6602596