Moths produce extremely quiet ultrasonic courtship songs by rubbing specialized scales.
ABSTRACT: Insects have evolved a marked diversity of mechanisms to produce loud conspicuous sounds for efficient communication. However, the risk of eavesdropping by competitors and predators is high. Here, we describe a mechanism for producing extremely low-intensity ultrasonic songs (46 dB sound pressure level at 1 cm) adapted for private sexual communication in the Asian corn borer moth, Ostrinia furnacalis. During courtship, the male rubs specialized scales on the wing against those on the thorax to produce the songs, with the wing membrane underlying the scales possibly acting as a sound resonator. The male's song suppresses the escape behavior of the female, thereby increasing his mating success. Our discovery of extremely low-intensity ultrasonic communication may point to a whole undiscovered world of private communication, using "quiet" ultrasound.
Project description:Insects have evolved a variety of structures and mechanisms to produce sounds, which are used for communication both within and between species. Among acoustic insects, cicada males are particularly known for their loud and diverse sounds which function importantly in communication. The main method of sound production in cicadas is the tymbal mechanism, and a relative small number of cicada species possess both tymbal and stridulatory organs. However, cicadas of the genus Karenia do not have any specialized sound-producing structures, so they are referred to as "mute". This denomination is quite misleading, as they indeed produce sounds. Here, we investigate the sound-producing mechanism and acoustic communication of the "mute" cicada, Karenia caelatata, and discover a new sound-production mechanism for cicadas: i.e., K. caelatata produces impact sounds by banging the forewing costa against the operculum. The temporal, frequency and amplitude characteristics of the impact sounds are described. Morphological studies and reflectance-based analyses reveal that the structures involved in sound production of K. caelatata (i.e., forewing, operculum, cruciform elevation, and wing-holding groove on scutellum) are all morphologically modified. Acoustic playback experiments and behavioral observations suggest that the impact sounds of K. caelatata are used in intraspecific communication and function as calling songs. The new sound-production mechanism expands our knowledge on the diversity of acoustic signaling behavior in cicadas and further underscores the need for more bioacoustic studies on cicadas which lack tymbal mechanism.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Vocal learning is a central functional constituent of human speech, and recent studies showing that adult male mice emit ultrasonic sound sequences characterized as "songs" have suggested that the ultrasonic courtship sounds of mice provide a mammalian model of vocal learning.<h4>Objectives</h4>We tested whether mouse songs are learned, by examining the relative role of rearing environment in a cross-fostering experiment.<h4>Methods and findings</h4>We found that C57BL/6 and BALB/c males emit a clearly different pattern of songs with different frequency and syllable compositions; C57BL/6 males showed a higher peak frequency of syllables, shorter intervals between syllables, and more upward frequency modulations with jumps, whereas BALB/c males produced more "chevron" and "harmonics" syllables. To establish the degree of environmental influences in mouse song development, sons of these two strains were cross-fostered to another strain of parents. Songs were recorded when these cross-fostered pups were fully developed and their songs were compared with those of male mice reared by the genetic parents. The cross-fostered animals sang songs with acoustic characteristics--including syllable interval, peak frequency, and modulation patterns--similar to those of their genetic parents. In addition their song elements retained sequential characteristics similar to those of their genetic parents' songs.<h4>Conclusion</h4>These results do not support the hypothesis that mouse "song" is learned; we found no evidence for vocal learning of any sort under the conditions of this experiment. Our observation that the strain-specific character of the song profile persisted even after changing the developmental auditory environment suggests that the structure of these courtship sound sequences is under strong genetic control. Thus, the usefulness of mouse "song" as a model of mammalian vocal learning is limited, but mouse song has the potential to be an indispensable model to study genetic mechanisms for vocal patterning and behavioral sequences.
Project description:This article reports the discovery of a new genus and three species of predaceous katydid (Insecta: Orthoptera) from Colombia and Ecuador in which males produce the highest frequency ultrasonic calling songs so far recorded from an arthropod. Male katydids sing by rubbing their wings together to attract distant females. Their song frequencies usually range from audio (5 kHz) to low ultrasonic (30 kHz). However, males of Supersonus spp. call females at 115 kHz, 125 kHz, and 150 kHz. Exceeding the human hearing range (50 Hz-20 kHz) by an order of magnitude, these insects also emit their ultrasound at unusually elevated sound pressure levels (SPL). In all three species these calls exceed 110 dB SPL rms re 20 µPa (at 15 cm). Males of Supersonus spp. have unusually reduced forewings (<0.5 mm(2)). Only the right wing radiates appreciable sound, the left bears the file and does not show a particular resonance. In contrast to most katydids, males of Supersonus spp. position and move their wings during sound production so that the concave aspect of the right wing, underlain by the insect dorsum, forms a contained cavity with sharp resonance. The observed high SPL at extreme carrier frequencies can be explained by wing anatomy, a resonant cavity with a membrane, and cuticle deformation.
Project description:Previously it was shown that male mice, when they encounter female mice or their pheromones, emit ultrasonic vocalizations with frequencies ranging over 30-110 kHz. Here, we show that these vocalizations have the characteristics of song, consisting of several different syllable types, whose temporal sequencing includes the utterance of repeated phrases. Individual males produce songs with characteristic syllabic and temporal structure. This study provides a quantitative initial description of male mouse songs, and opens the possibility of studying song production and perception in an established genetic model organism.
Project description:Male parasitic wasps attract females with a courtship song produced by rapid wing fanning. Songs have been described for several parasitic wasp species; however, beyond association with wing fanning, the mechanism of sound generation has not been examined. We characterized the male courtship song of Cotesia congregata (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) and investigated the biomechanics of sound production.Courtship songs were recorded using high-speed videography (2,000 fps) and audio recordings. The song consists of a long duration amplitude-modulated "buzz" followed by a series of pulsatile higher amplitude "boings," each decaying into a terminal buzz followed by a short inter-boing pause while wings are stationary. Boings have higher amplitude and lower frequency than buzz components. The lower frequency of the boing sound is due to greater wing displacement. The power spectrum is a harmonic series dominated by wing repetition rate ?220 Hz, but the sound waveform indicates a higher frequency resonance ?5 kHz. Sound is not generated by the wings contacting each other, the substrate, or the abdomen. The abdomen is elevated during the first several wing cycles of the boing, but its position is unrelated to sound amplitude. Unlike most sounds generated by volume velocity, the boing is generated at the termination of the wing down stroke when displacement is maximal and wing velocity is zero. Calculation indicates a low Reynolds number of ?1000.Acoustic pressure is proportional to velocity for typical sound sources. Our finding that the boing sound was generated at maximal wing displacement coincident with cessation of wing motion indicates that it is caused by acceleration of the wing tips, consistent with a dipole source. The low Reynolds number requires a high wing flap rate for flight and predisposes wings of small insects for sound production.
Project description:Acoustic communication plays a key role for mate attraction in grasshoppers. Males use songs to advertise themselves to females. Females evaluate the song pattern, a repetitive structure of sound syllables separated by short pauses, to recognize a conspecific male and as proxy to its fitness. In their natural habitat females often receive songs with degraded temporal structure. Perturbations may, for example, result from the overlap with other songs. We studied the response behavior of females to songs that show different signal degradations. A perturbation of an otherwise attractive song at later positions in the syllable diminished the behavioral response, whereas the same perturbation at the onset of a syllable did not affect song attractiveness. We applied naïve Bayes classifiers to the spike trains of identified neurons in the auditory pathway to explore how sensory evidence about the acoustic stimulus and its attractiveness is represented in the neuronal responses. We find that populations of three or more neurons were sufficient to reliably decode the acoustic stimulus and to predict its behavioral relevance from the single-trial integrated firing rate. A simple model of decision making simulates the female response behavior. It computes for each syllable the likelihood for the presence of an attractive song pattern as evidenced by the population firing rate. Integration across syllables allows the likelihood to reach a decision threshold and to elicit the behavioral response. The close match between model performance and animal behavior shows that a spike rate code is sufficient to enable song pattern recognition.
Project description:Insects of the order Orthoptera are well-known for their acoustic communication. The structures used for this purpose show a high diversity which obviously relates to differences in song parameters and to the physics of sound production. Here we describe song and morphology of the sound producing organs of a tropical bush-cricket, Ectomoptera nepicauda, from East Africa. It has a very unusual calling song consisting of frequency-modulated, pure-tone sounds in the high ultrasonic range of 80 to 120 kHz and produced by extremely fast wing movements. Concerning morphology, it represents the most extreme state in the degree of left-right fore-wing differentiation found among Orthoptera: the acoustic parts of the left fore-wing consist exclusively of the stridulatory file, comparable in function to the bow of a violin, while the right wing carries only the plectrum (?=? string) and mirror (?=? soundbox).
Project description:Low-frequency urban noise can interfere with avian communication through masking. Some species are able to shift the frequency of their vocalizations upwards in noisy conditions, which may reduce the effects of masking. However, results from playback studies investigating whether or not such vocal changes improve audibility in noisy conditions are not clear; the responses of free-ranging individuals to shifted signals are potentially confounded by functional trade-offs between masking-related audibility and frequency-dependent signal quality. Black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) naturally sing their songs at several different frequencies as they pitch-shift to match conspecifics during song-matching contests. They are also known to switch to higher song frequencies in response to experimental noise exposure. Each male produces both high- and low-frequency songs and absolute frequency is not a signal of aggression or dominance, making this an interesting species in which to test whether higher-frequency songs are more audible than lower-frequency songs in noisy conditions. We conducted playback studies across southern and central British Columbia, Canada, using paired song stimuli (high- vs low-frequency songs, n = 24 pairs) embedded in synthetic background noise created to match typical urban sound profiles. Over the course of each playback, the signal-to-noise ratio of the song stimuli was gradually increased by raising the amplitude of the song stimuli while maintaining background noise at a constant amplitude. We evaluated variation in how quickly and aggressively territorial males reacted to each of the paired stimuli. We found that males responded more quickly to playbacks of high- than low-frequency songs when high-frequency songs were presented first, but not when low-frequency songs were first. This difference may be explained by high-frequency songs being more audible combined with a carry-over effect resulting in slower responses to the second stimulus due to habituation. We observed no difference in overall aggression between stimuli. These results suggest that high-frequency songs may be more audible under noisy conditions.
Project description:Bird songs are acoustic communication signals primarily used in male-male aggression and in male-female attraction. These are often monotonous patterns composed of a few phrases, yet some birds have extremely complex songs with a large phrase repertoire, organized in non-random fashion with discernible patterns. Since structure is typically associated with function, the structures of complex bird songs provide important clues to the evolution of animal communication systems. Here we propose an efficient network-based approach to explore structural design principles of complex bird songs, in which the song networks--transition relationships among different phrases and the related structural measures--are employed. We demonstrate how this approach works with an example using California Thrasher songs, which are sequences of highly varied phrases delivered in succession over several minutes. These songs display two distinct features: a large phrase repertoire with a 'small-world' architecture, in which subsets of phrases are highly grouped and linked with a short average path length; and a balanced transition diversity amongst phrases, in which deterministic and non-deterministic transition patterns are moderately mixed. We explore the robustness of this approach with variations in sample size and the amount of noise. Our approach enables a more quantitative study of global and local structural properties of complex bird songs than has been possible to date.
Project description:Acoustic signals play an important role in premating isolation based on sexual selection within many taxa. Many male parasitic wasps produce characteristic courtship songs used by females in mate selection. In Cotesia (Hymenoptera: Braconidae: Microgastrinae), courtship songs are generated by wing fanning with repetitive pulses in stereotypical patterns. Our objectives were to sample the diversity of courtship songs within Cotesia and to identify e underlying patterns of differentiation. We compared songs among 12 of ca. 80 Cotesia species in North America, including ten species that have not been recorded previously. For Cotesia congregata, we compared songs of wasps originating from six different host-foodplant sources, two of which are considered incipient species. Songs of emergent males from wild caterpillar hosts in five different families were recorded, and pattern, frequency, and duration of song elements analyzed. Principal component analysis converted the seven elements characterized into four uncorrelated components used in a hierarchical cluster analysis and grouped species by similarity of song structure. Species songs varied significantly in duration of repeating pulse and buzz elements and/or in fundamental frequency. Cluster analysis resolved similar species groups in agreement with the most recent molecular phylogeny for Cotesia spp., indicating the potential for using courtship songs as a predictor of genetic relatedness. Courtship song analysis may aid in identifying closely related cryptic species that overlap spatially, and provide insight into the evolution of this highly diverse and agriculturally important taxon.