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New works on vibrational communication

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Subject: New works on vibrational communication
From: jernej polajnar <>
Date: Mon, 15 Sep 2014 12:37:35 +0200
Dear colleagues,

I'd like to draw your attention to a pair of recent papers published by our group at Fondazione Edmund Mach in the context of our research on mating disruption of leafhoppers using vibrational disturbance noise. Both are open access.

Polajnar et al. (2014). The process of pair formation mediated by substrate-borne vibrations in a small insect. Behavioural processes 107: 68-78. <>


The ability to identify and locate conspecifics depends on reliable transfer of information between emitter and receiver. For a majority of plant-dwelling insects communicating with substrate-borne vibrations, localization of a potential partner may be a difficult task due to their small body size and complex transmission properties of plants. In the present study, we used the leafhopper Scaphoideus titanus as a model to investigate duetting and mate searching associated with pair formation. Studying these insects on a natural substrate, we showed that the spatio-temporal structure of a vibrational duet and the perceived intensity of partner's signals influence the mating behaviour. Identification, localization and courtship stages were each characterized by a specific duet structure. In particular, the duet structure differed in synchronization between male and female pulses, which enables identification of the partner, while the switch between behavioural stages was associated with the male-perceived intensity of vibrational signals. This suggests that males obtain the information about their distance from the female and optimize their strategy accordingly. More broadly, our results show that even in insects smaller than 1 cm, vibrational signals provide reliable information needed to find a mating partner.


Polajnar et al. (2014). Manipulating behaviour with substrate‐borne vibrations–potential for insect pest control. Pest Management Science (in press). <>


This review presents an overview of the potential use of substrate-borne vibrations for the purpose of achieving insect pest control in the context of integrated pest management. Although the importance of mechanical vibrations in the life of insects has been fairly well established, the effect of substrate-borne vibrations has historically been understudied, in contrast to sound sensu stricto. Consequently, the idea of using substrate-borne vibrations for pest control is still in its infancy. This review therefore focuses on the theoretical background, using it to highlight potential applications in a field environment, and lists the few preliminary studies that have been or are being performed. Conceptual similarities to the use of sound, as well as limitations inherent in this approach, are also noted.


More broadly speaking, a new book on the topic of vibrational communication has recently been published by Springer, titled "Studying Vibrational Communication" (ed. by Cocroft et al.), in which my current group and my former one at the National Institute of Biology have several chapters (plus of course there are many more interesting chapters by other researchers involved in vibrational communication). You can look at it at <>



Jernej Polajnar, postdoc researcher
Chemical Ecology group, Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems and Bioresources Department
Fondazione Edmund Mach
Via E. Mach 1, IT-38010 San Michele all'Adige (TN), Italy
Tel. ++39 0461 615 509, fax ++39 0461 615 500, Skype: JPolajnar
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