Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 166, Issue 3, pp 345–353

Vibrational communication in the fiddler crab, Uca pugilator

I. Signal transmission through the substratum
  • Bernhard Aicher
  • Jürgen Tautz


  1. 1.

    During courtship behavior, males of the fiddler crab, Uca pugilator, drum on the ground with their large chela. The types of waves this produces and some of their properties were investigated using a laser Doppler vibrometer and accelerometers under field and laboratory conditions.

  2. 2.

    Rhythmical impact onto the substratum by Uca produces 3 types of surface waves: Rayleigh waves and Love waves which contain most of the energy, and the weaker surface P-waves.

  3. 3.

    The group velocity of Love-waves is 50–60 m/s in wet sand. Rayleigh waves travel at 70–80 m/s in wet sand and obout 40 m/s in dry sand. The propagation velocity of surface P-waves is 150–160 m/s in compact wet sand and about 140 m/s in wet sand perforated by crab burrows. The group velocity of Rayleigh and Love waves is not influenced by the presence of crab burrows.

  4. 4.

    Fast Fourier transform (FFT) spectra of single beats reveal that the energy maxima of Rayleigh and Love waves lie in the frequency range of 340–370 Hz, i.e., at much higher frequencies than the beat rate of the fiddler crabs, which is usually below 40/s. The optimal frequency is independent of the distance from the signalling male.

  5. 5.

    In the optimal frequency range, the specific damping coefficient α10 for Rayleigh waves is very low and amounts to 0.13–0.16 dB/cm in wet sand and 0.23–0.49 dB/cm in dry sand. Substrate vibrations of higher frequencies are more strongly damped.

  6. 6.

    Considering the size of a fiddler crab, the physical properties of the Rayleigh and Love waves in the optimal frequency range provide a suitable signal for localizing mechanisms which rely on time or phase differences but not on intensity or spectral differences of propagating substrate vibrations.


Key words

Vibration Communication Signal transmission Fiddler crab 



laser Doppler vibrometer


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernhard Aicher
    • 1
  • Jürgen Tautz
    • 1
  1. 1.Fakultät für BiologieUniversität KonstanzKonstanzGermany

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