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Sound production in bark and ambrosia beetles

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-12-06, 19:40 authored by Carol L. Bedoya, Richard W. Hofstetter, Ximena J. Nelson, Michael Hayes, Daniel R. Miller, Eckehard G. Brockerhoff

Bark and ambrosia beetles and pinhole borers (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae and Platypodinae) are two subfamilies of weevils that use acoustic communication within plant tissue. These insects transmit and detect sound in a medium that is neither air nor water and they are among the smallest animals with sound-producing organs. Nevertheless, their sound production is sorely understudied, mostly due to the difficulties associated with acoustically monitoring individuals inside plants. We analysed the stridulatory sounds from 55 bark and ambrosia beetle species within 15 subtribes collected in four countries, making this the largest acoustic dataset of these taxa to date. We characterised and compared the amplitude and spectro-temporal parameters of the distress airborne signals produced by the beetles, in conjunction with phenology and life history data. Sound production was present in 33% of the collected species, of which 60% of these sounds had not been previously reported. Depending on species, either both sexes stridulated or only one. Some species had calls with different acoustic morphotypes (one, two, or three notes), and when both sexes stridulated, sounds generally differed. Our data suggest that type of mating system and size play an important role in determining the acoustic communicatory capacity of most species.


This study was funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE), grant C04X1407, the Better Border Biosecurity Collaboration (b3nz.org) via MBIE Core Funding to Scion, and Catalyst: Seeding funding from the Royal Society of New Zealand (grant CSG-FRI1701).


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    Bioacoustics: This International Journal of Animal Sound and its Recording



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