Understanding the modes of communication used by a species is essential to understanding their ecology, behavior, and evolution. Substrate-borne vibrations have been reported to be produced by the veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus), possibly implemented by use of a gular pouch. We found that veiled chameleons produced vibrations under dominance and mating behavioral contexts. We tested the sensitivity of veiled chameleons to vibrations by placing chameleons, one at a time, on a wooden dowel attached to a permanent magnetic shaker and recording each chameleon’s behavior before, during, and after a three-pulse vibrational stimulus of 25, 50, 150, 300, or 600 Hz. Vibrations were measured via an accelerometer attached to the dowel. The chameleons exhibited a stop-behavioral response (i.e., lack of movement) when exposed to stimulus of 50 and 150 Hz. Further experiments testing behavioral responses at lower (25 Hz) and higher (300 and 600 Hz) frequencies showed little to no reduction in movement. For induced sounds produced by chameleons, there was no significant correlation between size of the chameleon and average dominant vibrational frequency or duration of a vibrational pulse and dominant frequency. Chameleon vibrational response was also studied under various behavioral contexts by pairing chameleons on a dowel and recording the natural vibrational responses of chameleons under these conditions via an accelerometer. The pairing of chameleons in various behavioral contexts, including male-male, male-female, and interspecific interactions resulted in natural vibrational responses that were much shorter in duration and more pulse-like than the induced low-frequency tonal vibrations previously studied in C. calyptratus, suggesting the possibility of different types of vibrational responses. These findings improve the understanding of vi behavioral responses between chameleons, and can be utilized as a basis for further research into the morphology and physiology of chameleons.
Advisor(s) or Committee Chair
Dr. Michael Smith, Dr. Steve Huskey, Dr. Christopher Keller
Behavior and Ethology | Other Animal Sciences
Hamilton, Emily J., "Substrate-Borne Communication in Chameleons: Do Vibrations Induce Behavioral Changes?" (2017). Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects. Paper 718.