The 13-year periodical cicada Magicicada neotredecim was first described in 2000 by Marshall and Cooley on the basis of a diagnostic difference in the dominant pitch (frequency) of the male calling song. This character alone is sufficient to distinguish all males of M. neotredecim from males of the species' closest 13-year relative, M. tredecim, across the entire range of both species. Marshall and Cooley demonstrated that females of both species respond preferentially to songs with conspecific frequency characteristics.
Dominant song pitch varies within M. neotredecim from 1.25 kHz to 1.90 kHz, while M. tredecim (Walsh and Riley) dominant song pitch varies between 1.00 kHz and 1.25 kHz. The holotype male of M. neotredecim (dominant pitch 1.68 kHz) was deliberately chosen from a region of overlap of the two species in northern Arkansas, where the song pitch of M. neotredecim is most divergent from its 13-year relative (reproductive character displacement). Note that song pitch does not distinguish M. neotredecim from its closest 17-year relative M. septendecim L. – only life-cycle length can distinguish those species, as far as is known. However, the song pitch of 13-year M. tredecim does differ from that of M. septendecim, which is also higher than 1.25 kHz but does not range as high as that of M. neotredecim.
Unfortunately, song phenotypes do not persist in dead insect specimens. Along with the holotype male specimen, which is stored at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Marshall and Cooley deposited a short recording of one calling song phrase taken from that specimen. A copy of that recording is being made available here to facilitate long-term persistence of the file and taxonomic comparison. Note that this year, 2011, is the first emergence of 13-year Brood XIX since the original discovery of M. neotredecim in that brood, and the first opportunity to examine the reproductive character displacement pattern that helped unmask this new periodical cicada species.
More information on the periodical cicada complex, and examples of the songs of the other species, can be found at www.magicicada.org.
Click this link to download a photocopy of the paper containing the description of M. neotredecim: marshall_and_cooley_2000.pdf
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