I studied in the laboratory and in the field the communication distance of the gomphocerine grasshopper Chorthippus biguttulus, which lives close to the ground in stony, short grass habitats. Using sound measurements and behavioural tests, 1 examined the frequency dependent attenuation and temporal degradation of the song pattern. Sound measurements (2-40 kHz) in the field revealed that excess attenuation increases with increasing frequency. Close to the ground, excess attenuation reaches 18 dB/m. On the basis of (i) excess attenuations, (ii) tympanic receptor threshold curves and (iii) song spectra, perception distances of female tympanic receptors for male songs and vice versa were calculated. Behavioural tests revealed that, especially in short and stony grass vegetation, the typical habitat of Ch. biguttulus, the temporal song pattern is strongly degraded. Thus, in the laboratory and in tall grass vegetation, sound attenuation was found to limit the communication distance. In contrast, in short grass vegetation, degradation of the temporal pattern was found to limit the communication distance of males listening to female songs. I argue that the exploitation of fast amplitude modulations for song recognition restricts the acoustic communication of grasshoppers to short distances (1-2.2 m). In this respect it seems adaptive to stridulate at low intensities.
grasshoppers, field studies, acoustic communication distance, sound attenuation, temporal degradation