Matching sender and receiver: poikilothermy and frequency tuning in a tree cricket

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2011
Authors:Mhatre, Bhattacharya, Robert, Balakrishnan
Keywords:frequency tuning, hearing, Oecanthinae, tree crickets

Animals communicate in non-ideal and noisy conditions. The primary method they use to improve communication efficiency is sender-receiver matching: the receiver's sensory mechanism filters the impinging signal based on the expected signal. In the context of acoustic communication in crickets, such a match is made in the frequency domain. The males broadcast a mate attraction signal, the calling song, in a narrow frequency band centred on the carrier frequency (CF), and the females are most sensitive to sound close to this frequency. In tree crickets, however, the CF changes with temperature. The mechanisms used by female tree crickets to accommodate this change in CF were investigated at the behavioural and biomechanical level. At the behavioural level, female tree crickets were broadly tuned and responded equally to CFs produced within the naturally occurring range of temperatures (18 to 27°C). To allow such a broad response, however, the transduction mechanisms that convert sound into mechanical and then neural signals must also have a broad response. The tympana of the female tree crickets exhibited a frequency response that was even broader than suggested by the behaviour. Their tympana vibrate with equal amplitude to frequencies spanning nearly an order of magnitude. Such a flat frequency response is unusual in biological systems and cannot be modelled as a simple mechanical system. This feature of the tree cricket auditory system not only has interesting implications for mate choice and species isolation but may also prove exciting for bio-mimetic applications such as the design of miniature low frequency microphones.

BioAcoustica ID: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith