At the University of California, Berkeley, the Elias Lab is studying how spiders sing.
It’s called “bioacoustics,” and Elias Lab is focusing on how spiders communicate with sound. But this sound is not audible in the same way a bird’s mating call is, for example. In the Habronattus coecatus clade of jumping spiders — a group of 23 different species — songs are sung with direct vibration of leg parts. Take a listen to the chainsaw love song of the male jumping spider below:
To get at the “sound” these spiders communicate with, scientists use lasers to detect the vibrations that wiggle inside the spiders’ bodies as they serenade females. These vibrations are then translated into sound by the scientists. “Communicate” isn’t misused either. According to Elias Lab:
“The vibratory song of H. coecatus are complex, consisting of up to 15 elements organized in functional groupings (motifs) that change as courtship progresses. This temporal structuring of displays is analogous to a musical composition.”
And though vibratory communication is one of the most common forms in the animal kingdom, almost nothing is known about the form, function, and diversity of the signaling. That’s where Elias Lab hopes to help.