Sound transmission and directional hearing in field crickets: neurophysiological studies outdoors.

Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EJ, UK.
Journal of Comparative Physiology (Impact Factor: 1.86). 09/2010; 196(9):669-81. DOI: 10.1007/s00359-010-0557-x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Many studies provide detailed behavioural and neurophysiological information on the ability of crickets to localize a sound source under ideal acoustic conditions, but very little is known about how they perform in real habitats. We investigated directional hearing of crickets in the field using a neurophysiological approach, by recording the activity of the two prominent, bilaterally homologous AN1 neurons simultaneously in a cricket's habitat. The discharge and latency differences of the pair of neurons in response to conspecific chirps presented at different distances and directions were taken as a measure of directional information. The maximum hearing distance differed between individuals and weather conditions from 1 to 15 m (mean 9.2 m). Although the AN1 activity generally decreased with increasing distance, large fluctuations in the magnitude of responses occurred with distance, indicating that the intensity gradient over distance is often irregular. The directional information provided in the discharge differences of the two neurons also varied with distance. Again, there was no simple directional gradient on the transmission channel; rather, with decreasing distance to the source there were receiver locations providing suprathreshold responses, but no directional information. The consequences for the ability of field crickets to communicate acoustically close to the ground are discussed.

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