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BAAM ecological consultant hits high note with cicadas

BAAM ecological consultancy’s Senior Ecologist, Dr Lindsay Popple, has recently revised the cicadas of the Pauropsalta annulata species group utilising morphology, ecology and a detailed analysis of their calling songs (https://biotaxa.org/Zootaxa/article/view/zootaxa.3730.1.1). The species complex is distributed widely in eastern Australia and has been recognised for its remarkable diversity in calling songs and ecology. Reasons for this diversity have been shown to be due to the presence of a number of unnamed cryptic species which make up the complex. Dr Popple’s revision details three existing species and describes an additional 11 species. Detailed notes on the distribution and ecology of the species and separate keys based on morphological features and male calling song structure are provided. Each calling song has two readily identified components: an introductory or buzzing component and a lilting or cueing component each with a defined function. The former attracts females to the area within the acoustic range of the call while the second is concerned with localising a mate. The female responds with a ‘wing flick’ which produces a short, sharp ‘tick’ sound. The male calling songs are also species specific and function to isolate sympatric species. The paper also provides the first molecular based phylogeny of the group and results indicate that diversification of these cicadas began in the Miocene between 10 and 15 million years ago. This occurred in a period when the climate was warm and wet prior to a period of cool dry and preceding the intense aridification of the mid- to late Miocene. BAAM ecological consultancy is pleased to acknowledge and celebrate Dr Popple’s notable achievement.