Discovery of three new species of predatory bush crickets from Haryana and Meghalaya
Dr. Ranjana Jaiswara, DST-Inspire Faculty from the Department of Zoology, Panjab University, Chandigarh along with researchers from Ashoka University, Sonipat, Haryana discovered three new species of predatory bush crickets from Haryana and Meghalaya.
Chandigarh, March 29, 2023: Dr. Ranjana Jaiswara, DST-Inspire Faculty from the Department of Zoology, Panjab University, Chandigarh along with researchers from Ashoka University, Sonipat, Haryana discovered three new species of predatory bush crickets from Haryana and Meghalaya. These predatory bush crickets belong to the genus Hexacentrus. Predatory bush crickets have longer mandibles which help them to hold their prey more firmly. Their forelegs have sharp spurs which help them to capture prey. These crickets are mostly bright green in colour with brown segments and camouflages well among bushes. They also have unique leaf-shaped wings which help them camouflage from their predators like bats, frogs and snakes.
Of the three newly discovered species, two are from the campus of Ashoka University, Sonipat, Haryana. Hexacentrus ashoka is named after the university itself. Hexacentrus tiddae named after the term used in Hindi and Haryanvi for crickets. The third species is Hexacentrus khaisensis from Khasi hills including the Ri-Bhoi and West Khasi Hill districts of Meghalaya. Hexacentrus exist around the world, only seven have been found in India. The current discovery takes the number to 10.
All the three bush crickets were discovered in their natural habitat based on their unique acoustic signal. Like other crickets, Hexacentrus also produce acoustic signals to attract conspecific females in the night. Hexacentrus ashoka has two layers to its call. The first part has a group of low amplitude chirps with varying duration while the second part consisted of high amplitude, well-defined sharp chirps that sounds like “short buzzing sounds. Hexacentrus Tiddae produces a ‘regular amplitude modulated pattern of continuous syllables, alternating between longer, higher amplitude syllables and quicker, low amplitude syllables. Whereas Hexacentrus khaisensis has two distinct layers to it: first part is a “broadband continuous trill” which is followed by the second part with an “amplitude modulated trill”.
These three new species are vital indicators that both degraded and tropical forest systems still have a wide diversity of undiscovered species. It impresses upon us the need to conserve both degraded and more lush ecosystems. Perhaps most importantly, the wide variety of ecological niches occupied by bush crickets - and by Ensiferans and their predators more broadly, means that they can act as an indicator of the health of the forest where they are located. We can monitor the biodiversity of Ensiferans using noninvasive and continuous automated acoustic monitoring techniques, and this can act as a proxy for overall biodiversity monitoring. The discovery is published in Internationally peer reviewed journal of Zootaxa by New Zealand.
Figure Legend: Picture of all 3 species in their natural habitat—H. khasiensis male (A) and female (B), H. ashoka male (C), H. tiddae male (D)