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Sounds of Soil: A New World of Interactions under Our Feet?

Institut für Biologie, Freie Universität Berlin, 14195 Berlin, Germany
Berlin-Brandenburg Institute of Advanced Biodiversity Research (BBIB), 14195 Berlin, Germany
6 Chemin des Vignes, Pesselières, 18300 Jalognes, France
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Soil Syst. 2019, 3(3), 45;
Received: 10 May 2019 / Revised: 8 July 2019 / Accepted: 8 July 2019 / Published: 14 July 2019
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Soils are biodiversity-dense and constantly carry chemical flows of information, with our mental image of soil being dark and quiet. But what if soil biota tap sound, or more generally, vibrations as a source of information? Vibrations are produced by soil biota, and there is accumulating evidence that such vibrations, including sound, may also be perceived. We here argue for potential advantages of sound/vibration detection, which likely revolve around detection of potential danger, e.g., predators. Substantial methodological retooling will be necessary to capture this form of information, since sound-related equipment is not standard in soils labs, and in fact this topic is very much at the fringes of the classical soil research at present. Sound, if firmly established as a mode of information exchange in soil, could be useful in an ‘acoustics-based’ precision agriculture as a means of assessing aspects of soil biodiversity, and the topic of sound pollution could move into focus for soil biota and processes. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil; sound; vibration; disturbance; biodiversity soil; sound; vibration; disturbance; biodiversity

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Rillig, M.C.; Bonneval, K.; Lehmann, J. Sounds of Soil: A New World of Interactions under Our Feet? Soil Syst. 2019, 3, 45.

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