Technical aspects of the study of insect acoustic and vibratory signals has progressed considerably together with the advances in microelectronics (Stoddard, 1990). Signals nowadays can be recorded, processed, stored, analysed and displayed in real time with considerable accuracy, minimal distortion and with higher limits in recording time. The reduction of electronic circuitry and minimal power consumption have made an impact on portability as well as durability in the field. More sensitive input devices offer the possibility of recording weak signals, very high pitch signals or signals at a distance with improved S/N ratio.
Signal analysis methodology has also advanced. From the days of the analogue oscilloscope we have moved to the digital computer analysis systems where even spectrograms can be real time with instantaneous FFTs. Sonograms, spectrograms or power spectrums provide complementary information on animal communication and behaviour. Direct comparisons of signals is no longer cumbersome since they are performed on the computer display with the use of signal editors. (In the Appendix a list of some suitable sound analysis programs is given.)
The bioacoustic researcher today has a very wide choice of equipment and methodology for either acoustic or vibratory signal detection. As digital equipment is being reduced in size and price, performance is enhanced beyond expectation. The future might well include the integration of moving images in order to provide a complete overview of behaviour. (In this book several pioneering sound movies of insect behaviour are included in digital form indicating future developments.)
Was this article helpful?