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Vibrational playback by means of airborne stimuli
Darren Rebar, Gerlinde Höbel, Rafael L. Rodríguez


Substrate-borne vibrational communication is a common form of communication in animals. Current contact-based playback methods limit the number of substrates that can be stimulated simultaneously and potentially change the transmission properties of the substrate. Here, we explore a solution to these limitations by broadcasting airborne stimuli onto plant substrates in an attempt to impart vibrational playbacks. We demonstrate that one can effectively compensate for the filtering properties of any individual plant across a range of frequencies. We then address how well both compensated broad-band and pure-tone stimuli for one plant individual apply to other individuals across days. Variation within and between plants was similar across the range tested, but was quite variable at certain frequencies. Focusing on a subset of this range, at low frequencies responses were flat across days and pure-tone frequency stimuli in this range were consistently transmitted despite repositioning of plants relative to the loudspeaker. Our results present a potential solution to researchers interested in exposing large samples of individuals to vibrational signals, but also highlight the importance of validating the use of airborne stimuli as vibrational playbacks to the particular substrate type and frequency range of interest.