We have studied auditory responses in two species of mole cricket (Scapteriscus borellii and S. abbreviatus) to determine (1) whether they show sensitivity to ultrasound, (2) whether their hearing (at both low and high frequencies) is based on the same neural circuitry as that of true crickets, and (3) whether ultrasound sensitivity in different mole cricket species varies with their ability to fly. S. borellii are sensitive to ultrasonic frequencies. There is evidence of a segregation of frequency bands in prothoracic auditory neurons. There are two pairs of &ohgr ; neurons (ONs) with similar morphology to ON1 of true crickets. The two pairs of ONs differ in tuning. One pair has two sensitivity peaks: at the frequency of the calling song of this species (3 kHz), and in the ultrasonic range (25 kHz). The other pair lacks the high-frequency sensitivity and responds exclusively to frequencies in the range of the species song. These two types are not morphologically distinguishable. In S. abbreviatus, only one class of ON was found. S. abbreviatus ONs are narrowly tuned to the frequency of the species' calls. A T-neuron had the best ultrasonic frequency sensitivity in S. borellii. This cell showed a broad tuning to ultrasonic frequencies and was inhibited by low-frequency stimuli. A morphologically similar neuron was also recorded in S. abbreviatus, but lacked the high-frequency sensitivity peak of that in S. borellii. We also assessed the responses of flying S. borellii to ultrasound using field playbacks to free-flying animals. The attractiveness of broadcast calling song was diminished by the addition of an ultrasound signal, indicating that S. borellii avoid high-frequency sound. The results indicate that mole crickets process low-frequency auditory stimuli using mechanisms similar to those of true crickets. They show a negative behavioural response to high-frequency stimuli, as do true crickets, but the organization of ultrasound-sensitive auditory circuitry in mole crickets differs from that of true crickets.

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