03 PM | 27 Jun

When a Good #Rhythm Can also Be a Bad Rhythm – A Story of Bug #Communication [#geekgirl]

“Substrate-borne sound (vibrational) communication is used by more than 200,000 arthropod species, most of which communicate on plants. In nature animals often communicate in situations when several individuals emit signals at the same time. For animals communicating acoustically, in such situations the problem of perceiving signals is equivalent to the human “cocktail party problem” formulated as: “How do we recognize what one person is saying when others are speaking at the same time?” However, for animals the problem is compounded by signals of other species present in the same environment. In many insects song rhythm is the most crucial parameter for mate recognition. While on one hand species-specific temporal pattern enables partners to find each other, on the other hand relying exclusively on song rhythm often leads to identification errors, when songs from several singing individuals combine to form an unattractive rhythm.

Meta Virant-Doberlet works as Sciences Councillor at the Department of Entomology at the National Institute of Biology, Ljubljana. She completed her studies and Ph.D. in biology at the University of Ljubljana. As a Ph.D. student she worked at the Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology in Seewiesen and recently she held a senior Marie Curie Fellowship at Cardiff University. Her main research is on insect vibrational communication with a particular focus on vibrational communication networks. Meta Virant-Doberlet has published articles in several journals, for instance, “Duetting Behavior in the Leafhopper Aphrodes makarovi” (with M. de Groot et al., 2012); “Exploitation of Insect Vibrational Signals Reveals a New Method of Pest Management” (with A. Eriksson et al., 2012); “Species Identity Cues: Possibilities for Errors During Vibrational Communication on Plant Stems” (with M. de Groot et al., 2011).”