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New articles on vibrational communication

Subject: New articles on vibrational communication
From: Jernej Polajnar <>
Date: Thu, 2 Feb 2012 08:44:06 +0100
Dear colleagues,

below are several new bioacoustics papers that have been published by our group at the National institute of Biology (Slovenia) recently, which might be of interest to you:

Jernej Polajnar, Daniel Svenšek, Andrej Čokl (2012): Resonance in herbaceous plant stems as a factor in vibrational communication of pentatomid bugs (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae). Journal of the Royal Society Interface (online first), DOI: 10.1098/​rsif.2011.0770

Abstract: Pentatomid bugs communicate using substrate-borne vibrational signals that are transmitted along herbaceous plant stems in the form of bending waves with a regular pattern of minimal and maximal amplitude values with distance. We tested the prediction that amplitude variation is caused by resonance, by measuring amplitude profiles of different vibrational pulses transmitted along the stem of a Cyperus alternifolius plant, and comparing their patterns with calculated spatial profiles of corresponding eigenfrequencies of a model system. The measured distance between nodes of the amplitude pattern for pulses with different frequencies matches the calculated values, confirming the prediction that resonance is indeed the cause of amplitude variation in the studied system. This confirmation is supported by the resonance profile obtained by a frequency sweep, which matches theoretical predictions of the eigenfrequencies of the studied system. Signal bandwidth influences the amount of amplitude variation. The effect of both parameters on signal propagation is discussed in the context of insect vibrational communication.


Maarten De Groot, Andrej Čokl, Meta Virant-Doberlet (2011): Species identity cues : possibilities for errors during vibrational communication on plant stems. Behavioral Ecology 22: 1209-1217, DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arr115.

Abstract: The efficiency of communication depends on the ability of conspecifics to recognize and locate each other, and the environment can impose important limitations on reliability of transmitted and received information. In contrast to the 3D space of airborne sound communication, substrate-borne vibrational signals are often transmitted via 1D plant stems and leaf stalks. In such situations, discrimination between signals emitted from several sources positioned on the same side of a receiver may be difficult, as the receiver may perceive this compound signal as emanating from a single source. Here, we examined the consequences of interactions between conspecific vibrational signals emitted from 2 sources for recognition of species-specific temporal patterns. In a 1D environment on a bean plant, males of the southern green stink bug Nezara viridula perceived conspecific female song emitted in alternation from 2 sources as a compound song with a signal repetition time outside the species-specific value and male responsiveness and the number of males locating a source (conspecific female) were low. By contrast, when the conspecific song was presented together with female signals of another stinkbug Acrosternum hilare, searching activity was not significantly affected. However, when conspecific and heterospecific signals were overlapping, males made significant orientation errors and the majority located the heterospecific source. Because both outcomes, missing a conspecific female and selecting a heterospecific partner, may ultimately lead to a reduced reproductive success, the results suggest that the 1D environment encountered on plant stems and branches imposes important limitations on vibrational communication system.


Maarten De Groot, Andrej Čokl, Meta Virant-Doberlet (2011): Search behaviour of two hemipteran species using vibrational communication. Central European Journal of Biology 6(5): 756-769, DOI: 10.2478/s11535-011-0056-2

Abstract: The ability of conspecifics to recognize and locate each other in the environment depends on the efficiency of intraspecific communication. We compared the mate searching strategies of southern green stinkbug Nezara viridula (male searches for a continuously calling female) and the leafhopper Aphrodes makarovi (partners form a precisely coordinated duet). Males of both species were tested on plants in playback experiments. One leaf was vibrated with unaltered conspecific female signals or with various conspecific signals using modified temporal parameters. The results showed that the onset of searching was faster in A. makarovi than in N. viridula. Changes in temporal parameters of female replies had negative effect on the searching behaviour of A. makarovi. Males located the source of longer female replies faster than the short female call and they failed to locate the source of a female reply with temporal parameters outside the species-specific values. In contrast, in N. viridula, searching males successfully located also the source of a female song with parameters outside the species-specific values. The results are discussed with regard to male behavioural strategies in species with different vibrational communication systems and different male mating investment.


Maarten de Groot, Maja Derlink, Petra Pavlovčič, Janez Prešern, Andrej Čokl and Meta Virant-Doberlet (2011): Duetting Behaviour in the Leafhopper Aphrodes makarovi (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae). Journal of Insect Behaviour (online first), DOI: 10.1007/s10905-011-9304-6

Abstract: Mate recognition and location in Cicadellidae is mediated exclusively via substrate-borne vibrational signals. In the present study we investigated vibrational signals and mate searching behaviour of the leafhopper Aphrodes makarovi. We studied mating behaviour and exchange of vibrational signals between live insects and in playback experiments. Males emitted long and complex calling signals composed of several sections. Female reply was long and always overlapped the end of the male call. The exchange of male and female vibrational signals was a complex and dynamic interaction during which both partners modified their signals according to partner’s reply. The duration of female reply was influenced by the duration of the male call to which she was responding, while the duration of male call was influenced by the duration of the previous female reply. Such relationship suggests the role of sexual selection in the evolution of male vibrational signals.


Reprints are available from me (the first article) or Dr De Groot - the rest).

Jernej Polajnar

Jernej Polajnar
Oddelek za entomologijo / Department of entomology
Nacionalni inštitut za biologijo / National institute of biology
Večna pot 111
SI-1000 Ljubljana

Tel.: +386 (0)59 232 788
Fax:  +386 (0)1 2412 980

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