Date on Honors Thesis

Spring 4-26-2023





Examining Committee Member

Laura Sullivan-Beckers, PhD

Examining Committee Member

Oliver Beckers, PhD

Examining Committee Member

Sterling Wright, PhD


There are many different modalities animals use to communicate. Substrate-borne vibrational communication is one that is in the infancy of research, but widely used by many members of the animal kingdom. The systems by which one species of treehopper, Hebetica sylviae, utilizes vibrational communication has yet to be described due to the recent nature of its discovery. This study aims to answer basic, but vital, questions regarding the key vibrational signals Hebetica sylviae use for the purposes of courtship. There were several calls found to be important to the male including a long-range signal, characterized by pulse trains produced from a single male. Males also created short-range signals when in proximity to a female. This type of signal was termed a “shake and rattle” Male shakes were characteristic of short bursts of high amplitude pulses while male rattles were characterized by a slow trill of signals, lower in amplitude than the shake call. There were also several interactions among competing males that were noted, including jamming signals. Females were also found to create distinct sounds, including a “clucking” sound only seen during copulation. Male and female duets were also observed. Females would normally produce a short “yip” signal in response to a male short-range call. There was substantial variation found in the percentage of time spent signaling in males, along with different numbers of pulses and trills in both the short-range signals and long-range signals. Along with variation in signals, the dominant frequency and duration of long-range, short range, and female signals were calculated. The goals and findings of this research are key to understanding the mating practices of Hebetica sylviae. This research will also supply foundational information in future projects dealing with specific details of Hebetica sylviae and general information for vibrational communication.

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