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.
Finally, a cohesive volume that illustrates the depth and breadth of research devoted to vibrational communication historically and as a growing field of study. This ambitious work is a remarkable synthesis of the field incorporating the physics of propagation, anatomical mechanisms of vibration transmission and detection as well as the diversity of uses by all taxa yet known to exploit vibrations as signals. The layout and very accessible prose make light reading out of a subject that in many aspects had been considered intractable. Vibrational Communication in Animals will no doubt inspire further thoughts and motivate more minds to focus on this intriguing area of science where there is so much more to discover.
Through exhaustive scholarship and with extraordinary skill, Hill has created a magnificent book, one that will become an essential resource for all members of the growing community of researchers in vibrational communication. It should win a prominent place on the shelves of bioacousticians and neuroethologists, as well as other biologists and non-biologists with integrative perspective and an interest in the senses and sensory communication.
Vibrational communication has been the poor and neglected cousin of the much-studied modalities of visual, chemical, and auditory communication. For the many groups of organisms that use the vibrational channel to summon kin and advertise to mates, it is a key to understanding their ecology, social behavior, and diversification. Now Peggy Hill has written a book on the subject that is both timely and long overdue. Too often researchers working on insects, for example, and those working on mammals simply overlook each other's contributions. This book will do much to dispel that provincial outlook. The discussion of the mechanisms underlying communication is thorough, and the explanations will be readily comprehensible to a non-specialist. Hill conveys a real sense of the attraction of studying such a rich but neglected topic: what we have learned so far is fascinating, and new discoveries surely await on every hand. The book's clear aim is to convince readers that vibrational communication is widespread, important, and probably occurring in their study organism--a task at which Hill succeeds admirably.
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.
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.
- 272 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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