Substrate-Borne Vibration Mediates Intrasexual Agonism in the New Zealand Cook Strait Giant Weta (Deinacrida rugosa)

Academic Article


  • Substrate-borne vibrational communication is a common mode of information transfer in many invertebrate groups, with vibration serving as both primary and secondary signal channels in Orthopterans. The Cook Strait giant weta, Deinacrida rugosa (Orthoptera: Anostostomatidae), is an endangered New Zealand insect whose communication system has not been previously described. After field observations of intraspecific interactions in D. rugosa provided preliminary evidence for substrate-borne vibrational communication in the species, we sought to identify the following: vibrational signal structure, the biomechanics of signal production, whether signal production is a sexually dimorphic trait, whether substrate-borne signals encode information regarding sender size, the primary social context in which vibration is utilized and finally, the function of vibrational signaling in the species. We used laser Doppler vibrometry to show that D. rugosa males produce low frequency (DF = 37.00 ± 1.63 Hz) substrate-borne vibrations through dorso-ventral tremulation. Rarely produced by females, male signals appear to target rivals while both are in the direct physical presence of a female. Tremulatory responses to playbacks were only produced by males in male-male-female trial contexts, and neither sex exhibited walking vibrotaxis to playback signals, indicating that substrate-borne vibrational signals are not likely a component of the courtship repertoire. While we found that vibrational signal structure was not closely related to signaler size, males that initiated duetting bouts held a significant advantage in contests.
  • Authors

  • Howard, Daniel
  • Schmidt, Ashley P
  • Hall, Carrie L
  • Mason, Andrew C
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • November 2018
  • Has Subject Area

    Published In


  • Agonism
  • Deinacrida rugosa
  • giant weta
  • seismic signals
  • substrate-borne signals
  • vibrational communication
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 599
  • End Page

  • 615
  • Volume

  • 31
  • Issue

  • 6