Biology Department

Michael S. Caldwell

Associate Professor




Campus Box 0392


McCreary Hall
Room 201 D
300 North Washington St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325-1400


PhD Boston University, 2010
BA University of California at Santa Barbara, 2002

Academic Focus

Vibrational communication, Sensory physiology, Biotremology, Behavioral Ecology, Tropical Biology, Playback methods, Herpetology

Teaching:  I teach Vertebrate Zoology (BIO224), Introduction to Form and Function of Living Organisms (BIO112), a first year seminar course on Rhythms in the Natural Word (FYS 124-3). I have also taught Comparative Animal Physiology (BIO340), and Basic Biological Concepts (BIO101).

Research:  In the Caldwell Lab, we study the ways in which animals use vibrations traveling through surfaces, such as the ground or plant stems, to assess their world. Although far less is known about how animals use vibrations, as opposed to other sensory modalities like vision or hearing, we do know that vibrational information is important in the communication, foraging, and risk assessment behavior of hundreds of thousands of species.
   Methods in our lab include the recording and playback of vibration and sound signals produced by animals, video analysis of behavioral responses to these signals, and the measurement of vibrations as they propagate through body tissues and the environment.

Current lines of research include:
- Teasing apart the communication roles played by airborne sound and plant vibrations produced by red-eyed treefrogs (Agalychnis callidryas) when they call to attract mates.
- Determining whether snakes can use substrate-borne vibrations to localize prey
- Determining whether toe tapping behavior exhibited by some foraging frogs serves as a vibrational signal used to manipulate the behavior of termite prey.