Skip to main content

Seismic communication in demon African mole rat Tachyoryctes daemon from Tanzania

Abstract

We describe the production of substrate-borne vibrations in a subterranean mole rat of the genus Tachyoryctes for the first time. These signals with a supposed communication function were recorded using two approaches. Firstly, we recorded the production of spontaneous substrate-borne vibrations of individual test animals in artificial tunnels simulating a mole rat burrow system. Secondly, we recorded substrate-borne vibrations in individuals with interconnected home systems divided by a barrier. We found that Tachyoryctes produces these seismic signals by striking its head against the ceiling of the tunnel. Two types of seismic signals differing in physical parameters were identified. A slow signal (inter-pulse distance 0.12 s, inter-bout distance 3.89 s, number of pulses within each bout 9.53) was produced in both experiments, whereas a fast signal (inter-pulse distance 0.05 s, inter-bout distance 18.44 s, number of pulses within each bout 22.54) was produced mainly in close proximity to another individual. Our results indicate that fast signals are probably individually specific, because the success rate of classification according to discriminant function analysis was 70.4 % for the three tested individuals.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Bednářová R, Hrouzková-Knotková E, Burda H, Sedláček F, Šumbera R (2013) Vocalization of the giant mole-rat (Fukomys mechowii), subterranean rodent with the richest vocal repertoire. Bioacoustics. doi:10.1080/09524622.2012.712749

    Google Scholar 

  2. Beolchini F, Corti M (2004) The taxonomy of the genus Tachyoryctes: a geometric morphometric approach. Ital J Zool 71:35–43

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Burda H, Bruns V, Müller M (1990) Sensory adaptations in subterranean mammals. In: Nevo E, Reig OA (eds) Evolution of subterranean mammals at the organismal and molecular levels. Alan R.Liss, Inc., New York, pp 269–293

    Google Scholar 

  4. Francescoli G (2000) Sensory capabilities and communication in subterranean rodents. In: Patton JL, Cameron GN, Lacey EA (eds) Life underground. The biology of subterranean rodents. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 111–144

    Google Scholar 

  5. Giannoni SM, Marquez R, Borghi CE (1997) Airborne and substrate-borne communications of Microtus (Terricola) gerbei and M. (T.) duodecimcostatus. Acta Theriol 42:123–141

    Google Scholar 

  6. Heth G, Frankenberg E, Nevo E (1986) Adaptive optimal sound for vocal communication in tunnels of a subterranean mammal (Spalax ehrenbergi). Experientia 42:1287–1289

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Heth G, Frankenberg E, Raz A, Nevo E (1987) Vibrational communication in subterranean mole rats (Spalax ehrenbergi). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 21:31–33

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Heth G, Frankenberg E, Pratt H, Nevo E (1991) Seismic communication in the blind subterranean mole rat: patterns of head thumping and of their detection in the Spalax ehrenbergi superspecies in Israel. J Zool 224:633–638

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Hill PSM (2008) Vibrational communication in animals. Harvard University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  10. Jarvis JUM (1969) Some aspects of the biology of East African mole-rats. University of East Africa, Nairobi (unpublished PhD thesis)

  11. Jarvis JUM, Bennett NC (1991) Ecology and behaviour of the family Bathyergidae. In: Sherman PW, Jarvis JUM, Alexander RD (eds) The biology of the naked mole-rat. Princeton University Press, New Jersey, pp 66–96

    Google Scholar 

  12. Jarvis JUM, Sale JB (1971) Burrowing and burrow patterns of East African mole-rats Tachyoryctes, Heliophobius and Heterocephalus. J Zool 163:451–479

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Kimchi T, Reshef M, Terkel J (2005) Evidence for the use of reflected self-generated seismic waves for spatial orientation in a blind subterranean mammal. J Exp Biol 208:647–659

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Kokiso A, Bekele A (2008) Ecology of mole rats Tachyoryctes splendens and its impact on farmlands at Angacha, Central Ethiopia. Acta Zool Sin 54:30–35

    Google Scholar 

  15. Lange S, Burda H, Wegner RE, Dammann P, Begall S, Kawalika M (2007) Living in a stethoscope: burrow-acoustics promotes auditory specializations in subterranean rodents. Naturwissenschaften 94:134–138

    Google Scholar 

  16. Li JG, Wang TZ, He JP, Min YJ (2001) Seismic communication in subterranean Gansu zokor (Myospalax cansus). Acta Theriol Sin 21:153–154

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Mason MJ, Lai FWS, Li JG, Nevo E (2010) Middle ear structure and bone conduction in Spalax, Eospalax and Tachyoryctes mole-rats (Rodentia: Spalacidae). J Morphol 271:462–472

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Musser GG, Carleton MD (2005) Superfamily Muroidea. In: Wilson E, Reeder DAM (eds) Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, pp 894–1534

    Google Scholar 

  19. Narins PN, Reichman OJ, Jarvis JUM, Lewis ER (1992) Seismic signal transmission between burrows of the Cape mole-rat, Georychus capensis. J Comp Physiol A 170:13–21

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Narins PM, Lewis ER, Jarvis JUM, O′Riain J (1997) The use of seismic signals by fossorial southern African mammals: a neuroethological gold mine. Brain Res Bull 44:641–646

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. Nowak RM (1999) Walker’s mammals of the world. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London, pp 1637–1639

    Google Scholar 

  22. Rado R, Levi N, Hauser H, Witcher J, Alder N, Intrator N, Wollberg Z, Terkel J (1987) Seismic signalling as a means of communication in a subterranean mammal. Anim Behav 35:1249–1251

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Randall JA (1984) Territorial defence and advertisement by footdrumming in banner-tailed kangaroo rats (Dipodomys spectabilis) at high and low population densities. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 16:11–20

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Randall JA (1989) Territorial defence interactions with neighbors and strangers in banner-tailed kangaroo rats. J Mammal 70:308–315

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Randall JA (1994) Discrimination of footdrumming signatures by kangaroo rats; Dipodomys spectabilis. Anim Behav 47:263–287

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Randall JA (1997) Species-specific footdrumming in kangaroo rats: Dipodomys ingens, D. deserti, D. spectabilis. Anim Behav 54:1167–1175

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Randall JA (2001) Evolution and function of drumming as communication in mammals. Am Zool 41:1143–1156

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Randall JA, Rogovin KA, Shier DM (2000) Antipredator behaviour of a social desert rodent: footdrumming and alarm calling in the great gerbil, Rhombomys opimus. Beh Ecol Sociobiol 48:110–118

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Sillero-Zubiri C, Tattersall FH, Macdonald DW (1995) Habitat selection and daily activity of giant mole rats (Tachyoryctes macrocephalus): significance to the Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) in the Afroalpine ecosystem. Biol Conserv 72:77–84

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Šklíba J, Šumbera R, Chitaukali WN (2008) Reactions to disturbances in the context of antipredatory behaviour in a solitary subterranean rodent. J Ethol 26:249–254

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. StatSoft, Inc. (2010) STATISTICA for Windows (Computer program manual). Tulsa, OK

Download references

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Simona Poláková for her help with statistical analysis, Chris Steer for correction of English and two reviewers for their comments. The research was supported by GAČR 31-P506/11/1512.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Radim Šumbera.

About this article

Cite this article

Hrouzková, E., Dvořáková, V., Jedlička, P. et al. Seismic communication in demon African mole rat Tachyoryctes daemon from Tanzania. J Ethol 31, 255–259 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10164-013-0374-0

Download citation

Keywords

  • Seismic communication
  • Tachyoryctes
  • Substrate-borne vibration
  • Subterranean mammal