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J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2006 Dec;192(12):1245-51. Epub 2006 Aug 3.

A method for two-dimensional characterization of animal vibrational signals transmitted along plant stems.

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Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri, 105 Tucker Hall, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.


Conventional approaches to measuring animal vibrational signals on plant stems use a single transducer to measure the amplitude of vibrations. Such an approach, however, will often underestimate the amplitude of bending waves traveling along the stem. This occurs because vibration transducers are maximally sensitive along a single axis, which may not correspond to the major axis of stem motion. Furthermore, stem motion may be more complex than that of a bending wave propagating along a single axis, and such motion cannot be described using a single transducer. Here, we describe a method for characterizing stem motion in two dimensions by processing the signals from two orthogonally positioned transducers. Viewed relative to a cross-sectional plane, a point on the stem surface moves in an ellipse at any one frequency, with the ellipse's major axis corresponding to the maximum amplitude of vibration. The method outlined here measures the ellipse's major and minor axes, and its angle of rotation relative to one of the transducers. We illustrate this method with measurements of stem motion during insect vibrational communication. It is likely the two-dimensional nature of stem motion is relevant to insect vibration perception, making this method a promising avenue for studies of plant-borne transmission.

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