Vibrational communication is widespread in insect social and ecological interactions. Of the insect species that communicate using sound, water surface ripples, or substrate vibrations, we estimate that 92% use substrate vibrations alone or with other forms of mechanical signaling. Vibrational signals differ dramatically from airborne insect sounds, often having low frequencies, pure tones, and combinations of contrasting acoustic elements. Plants are the most widely used substrate for transmitting vibrational signals. Plant species can vary in their signal transmission properties, and thus host plant use may influence signal divergence. Vibrational communication occurs in a complex environment containing noise from wind and rain, the signals of multiple individuals and species, and vibration-sensitive predators and parasitoids. We anticipate that many new examples and functions of vibrational communication will be discovered, and that study of this modality will continue to provide important insights into insect social behavior, ecology, and evolution.
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Vol. 55 • No. 4