Vibration through the substrate has likely been important to animals as a channel of communication for millions of years, but our awareness of vibration as biologically relevant information has a history of only the last 30 yr. Morphologists know that the jaw mechanism of early amphibians allowed them to perceive vibration through the substrate as their large heads lay on the ground. Although the exact mechanism of vibration production and the precise nature of the wave produced are not always understood, recent technical advances have given answers to increasingly sophisticated questions about how animals send and receive signals through the substrate. Some of us have been forced to explore the use of vibration when all other attempts to manipulate animals in the field have failed, while others began to think about vibration to explain some of the puzzling behaviors of species they were studying in other contexts. It has thus become clear that the use of vibration in animal communication is much more widespread than previously thought. We now know that vibration provides information used in predator-prey interactions, recruitment to food, mate choice, intrasexual competition and maternal/brood social interactions in a range of animals from insects to elephants.
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