What is Biotremology?

In the most basic sense, biotremology is the study of vibratory communication behavior through use of substrate-borne boundary, or surface, mechanical waves. Biotremology is thus one of the newest science disciplines, having only been identified, as such, by a name since 2014. P.S.M. Hill et al., 2019

Those unfamiliar with this emerging field that was traditionally regarded part of bioacoustics are invited to consult the excellent reference works published by senior researchers listed below. The breadth of Biotremology is also summarized in two recent scientific monographs available from Springer Nature (the third one being in preparation):

Some additional reference works:

  • Cocroft R.B. & Rodríguez R.L. (2005). The behavioral ecology of insect vibrational communication. BioScience 55(4): 323-334. DOI 10.1641/0006-3568(2005)055[0323:TBEOIV]2.0.CO;2
  • Hill P.S.M. (2008). Vibrational Communication in Animals. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (MA), 118 pp.
  • Hill P.S.M. & Wessel A. (2016). Primer: Biotremology. Current Biology 26(5): 187-191. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.01.054
  • Virant-Doberlet M., Čokl A., Zorović M. (2006). Use of substrate vibrations for orientation: from behaviour to physiology. In: Drosopoulos S., Claridge M.F. (Eds.), Insect Sounds and Communication. Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton, pp. 81–97.
  • Virant-Doberlet M., Kuhelj A., Polajnar J., Šturm R. (2019). Predator-prey interactions and eavesdropping in vibrational communication networks. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7: 203. DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00203

There is also a short article (i.e. a “stub”) about Biotremology on the free encyclopedia Wikipedia. Interested in expanding it? Please do, or contact the resident wikipedian among biotremologists if you need help.

We have much more to learn as biotremologists, across animal taxa and in new contexts when we know surface vibrations carry the essential signal for a given behavior. As unlikely as it seems, we are still an emerging field of study of an ancient and ubiquitous communication system. P.S.M. Hill & A. Wessel, 2016



Some images of model organisms and methods in Biotremology.