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In the field of chemical ecology, semiochemicals refer to the chemicals released and detect by organisms to communicate between each other. They are classified as:

  • pheromones: released and received by members of the same species (e.g. mating pheromones)
  • allomones: released by one species that affects the behavior of another species to the benefit of the originator but not the receiver (e.g. repellent odor to avoid being eaten)
  • kairomones: released by one species that affects the behavior of another species to the benefit of the receiver but not the originator (e.g. predator's odor)
  • synomones: beneficial to both emitter and receiver (e.g. organism warning a predator about its toxicity)

I find this classification very helpful and one can easily see similarities in sound communication. Has anybody heard about a similar nomenclature for sounds?

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In my experience the terms conspecific and heterospecific are typically what is used when talking about vocal communication, though this does not say anything about intentionality/receiver necessarily. Heterospecific recognition is used to describe situations in which one species understands a call from another species (most common with different species recognizing each others' alarm calls).

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A 2024 paper has just proposed exactly the same analogies between the semiochemicals terminology and solid-borne acoustics aka biotremology:

As parallels with concepts and approaches in chemical ecology emerge, there is a pressing need for a shared standardized vocabulary in the area of overlap for mutual understanding. In this article, we propose an updated set of terms in biotremology rooted in chemical ecology, using the suffix ‘-done’ derived from the classic Greek word ‘δονέω’ (pronounced ‘doneo’), meaning ‘to shake’.

Pherodones: substrate-borne vibrational signals that are emitted by an organism and mediate intraspecific interactions. Examples include alarm, mating, territoriality, aggregation, and parental care.

Allelodones: substrate-borne vibrations that mediate interspecific interactions. Based on the effects on emitter and receiver, allelodones can be further categorized into the three following classes:

(i) kairodones, substrate-borne vibrations emitted by an organism that evoke a behavioral or physiological response in the receiver that is beneficial to the receiver but not to the emitter;

(ii) allodones, substrate-borne vibrations emitted by an organism that evoke a behavioral or physiological response in the receiver that is beneficial to the emitter but not to the receiver, and

(iii) synodones, substrate-borne vibrations emitted by an organism that evoke a behavioral or physiological response in the receiver that is beneficial to both the emitter and receiver.

There is no reason not to use the same words for fluid-borne acoustic waves aka sounds, which also originate from the shaking of a solid source.

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