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Title: Rapid behavioural gregarization in the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria entails synchronous changes in both activity and attraction to conspecifics.
Authors: Rogers, S. M.
Cullen, Darron A.
Anstey, M. L.
Burrows, M
Despland, E
Dodgson, T
Matheson, Tom
Ott, Swidbert R.
Stettin, K.
Sword, G. A.
Simpson, S. J.
First Published: Jun-2014
Publisher: Elsevier for Pergamon
Citation: Journal of Insect Physiology, 2014, 65, pp. 9-26
Abstract: Desert Locusts can change reversibly between solitarious and gregarious phases, which differ considerably in behaviour, morphology and physiology. The two phases show many behavioural differences including both overall levels of activity and the degree to which they are attracted or repulsed by conspecifics. Solitarious locusts perform infrequent bouts of locomotion characterised by a slow walking pace, groom infrequently and actively avoid other locusts. Gregarious locusts are highly active with a rapid walking pace, groom frequently and are attracted to conspecifics forming cohesive migratory bands as nymphs and/or flying swarms as adults. The sole factor driving the onset of gregarization is the presence of conspecifics. In several previous studies concerned with the mechanism underlying this transformation we have used an aggregate measure of behavioural phase state, Pgreg, derived from logistic regression analysis, which combines and weights several behavioural variables to characterise solitarious and gregarious behaviour. Using this approach we have analysed the time course of behavioural change, the stimuli that induce gregarization and the key role of serotonin in mediating the transformation. Following a recent critique that suggested that using Pgreg may confound changes in general activity with genuine gregarization we have performed a meta-analysis examining the time course of change in the individual behaviours that we use to generate Pgreg. We show that the forced crowding of solitarious locusts, tactile stimulation of the hind femora, and the short-term application of serotonin each induce concerted changes in not only locomotion-related variables but also grooming frequency and attraction to other locusts towards those characteristic of long-term gregarious locusts. This extensive meta-analysis supports and extends our previous conclusions that solitarious locusts undergo a rapid behavioural gregarization upon receiving appropriate stimulation for a few hours that is mediated by serotonin, at the end of which their behaviour is largely indistinguishable from locusts that have been in the gregarious phase their entire lives.
DOI Link: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2014.04.004
ISSN: 0022-1910
eISSN: 1879-1611
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Description: PMCID: PMC4062946
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Biology

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