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A neurobehavioral approach to firefly flash code evolution
J Buck2; James F. Case*1
(1) Marine Science Institute, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA; (2) 7200 Third Ave., C-20, Sykesville, MD 21784 *(firstname.lastname@example.org)
The simplicity and variety of firefly flash codes invite evolutionary speculation. Codes of dialogue species harbor neurobehavioral elements suggesting an evolutionary pathway replacing continuous glowing in both sexes with flashes differentiated by gender and species. Signal timing basic to flashing appears to be built on stimulus-response circuits of about 0.3-0.4 s, as in Photinus pyralis male-male interactions in flight. These are matched in the female by a similar latency response that is rarely seen except under the unusual condition of flight, as opposed to the normal perched response latency of about 2 s. A female Photuris lucicrescens, normally responding to the males crescendo flash with a delay of at least 1 s also intermittently expresses a 0.3-0.4 s delay to an unusual LED square pulse. A fundamental pulse interval of 0.3 s is seen in Pteroptyx tener male synchronizers. These examples, among others, argue that flash control circuits in the nervous systems of both males and females of early species are either still in use or expressed under proper conditions, making neurobehavioral evidence relevant to phylogenetic analysis.
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