Female mating behavior plays a fundamental role in the divergent evolution of mate recognition systems that may lead to speciation. Despite this important role, the phenotypic and genetic bases of female mating behavior remain poorly understood. In this study, I examine the shape of the female acoustic preference function and estimate values for pulse rate preference in two species of Hawaiian crickets, Laupala kohalensis and L. paranigra. In addition, I examine how preference differences are inherited in hybrid crosses between these species. Females expressed unimodal preference functions and were generally more attracted to pulse rates characterizing their own species. Unimodal preference functions also characterized F1 and backcross generations, with hybrid females expressing preferences for intermediate pulse rates. Pulse rate preferences segregated in the backcross generation. Mean pulse rate preference matched mean pulse rate in both parental and hybrid generations. Based on F1 hybrids and segregation patterns in backcross females, I show that changes in both signal and receiver components of the mate recognition system are consistent with a multilocus model of change through incremental steps. The results therefore suggest that ancestors of the current species also expressed unimodal preference functions and that changes in acoustic communication signals occurred through shifts in mean pulse rates and pulse rate preferences among populations.
Corresponding Editor: E. Brodie III