In creatures as different as crickets and scorpions, mole rats and elephants, there exists an overlooked channel of communication: signals transmitted as vibrations through a solid substrate.
Peggy Hill summarizes a generation of groundbreaking work by scientists around the world on this long understudied form of animal communication. Beginning in the 1970s, Hill explains, powerful computers and listening devices allowed scientists to record and interpret vibrational signals. Whether the medium is the sunbaked savannah or the stem of a plant, vibrations can be passed along from an animal to a potential mate, or intercepted by a predator on the prowl. Vibration appears to be an ancient means of communication, widespread in both invertebrate and vertebrate taxa.
Hill synthesizes in this book a flowering of research, field studies documenting vibrational signals in the wild, and the laboratory experiments that answered such questions as what adaptations allowed animals to send and receive signals, how they use signals in different contexts, and how vibration as a channel might have evolved. Vibrational Communication in Animals promises to become a foundational text for the next generation of researchers putting an ear to the ground.
- Vibration as a Channel for Information Transfer
- Communication and the Medium
- Receiving Signals
- Sending Signals
- Predator-prey Interactions
- Group Information Transfer
- Why Vibration?
Peggy S. M. Hill is Associate Professor of Biological Science, University of Tulsa.
"In Vibrational Communication in Animals, animal behaviorist Peggy Hill provides an up-to-date overview of this field. Because the field of vibrational communication deals with a communication channel that is alien to our own species, research can be both frustrating and exciting [...] Overall, the book demonstrates beautifully the strength of research on animal behavior, the appreciation of the great diversity of species and their adaptations to their specific ecological niches [...] [It] will provide behavioral ecologists with new ideas about the mechanisms underlying communication, which may give fresh insights into signal evolution."
– Redouan Bshary, Nature 2008-11-01
"Howler monkeys howl and peacocks scream seconds before humans detect an earthquake or explosion. Many organisms readily detect vibrations transmitted through ground or other substrates. Hill explains that this is not at an isolated phenomenon, but part of a complex substrate vibration communication system that plays important roles in the survival and reproduction of most arthropods and many vertebrates."
– J. Burger, Choice 2008-11-01