Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ultrasonic sounds of the rainforest

Date:
April 5, 2013
Source:
University of Lincoln
Summary:
Research aimed at developing ultrasonic microphones with insect-like sensitivity is to continue in the rainforests of Colombia and Ecuador.

Research aimed at developing ultrasonic microphones with insect-like sensitivity is to continue in the rainforests of Colombia and Ecuador.

Following the discovery of a previously unidentified hearing organ in the South American bushcrickets' ear, a scientist from the University of Lincoln (UK) will now study the role of this Auditory Vesicle in hearing sensitivity.

Dr Fernando Montealegre-Zapata, from the University's School of Life Sciences, aims to understand how bushcrickets or katydids pick up on ultrasonic frequencies in their natural environment. The insects communicate using the highest-pitched calls in nature (130-150 kHz), which are not detected by humans. The male produces sound by rubbing its wings to attract distant females.

He said: "This animal can detect ultrasonic signals even at long distances. The problem is that at such high frequencies the sound travels in very short wavelengths which get diffracted, meaning the sound gets weaker as more obstacles are in the dispersive path. However, the bushcricket's small ear is still able to detect this fading ultrasonic energy at long distances. I want to test how the bushcrickets manage to do that in a field environment. The fluid in the katydid 'cochlea', which I named the Auditory Vesicle, is the key element in the hearing process. We want to investigate why this is the case and the first step is testing its sensitivity in their natural environment and revealing the chemical composition."

In mammals, hearing relies on three stages: an eardrum collecting sound, a middle ear impedance converter and a cochlear frequency analyser. Dr Montealegre-Zapata recently demonstrated that the bushcricket's ear performs these steps in the hearing process, something previously unknown in insects.

The calls of the bushcricket are theoretically not suited for long-range attraction, as ultrasound suffers excess attenuation in rainforest environments. Therefore, the insect's ears must have evolved to achieve sufficient sensitivity at such frequencies.

Dr Montealegre-Zapata said: "I want to find out how these insects mitigate the effects of sound degradation and how the female ear is structurally and functionally organised to detect distant calling males. The small ear will be used as a biological microphone to detect the sensitivity and hearing range of the female. In the future we want to produce microphones that work like this."

The ears of these ultrasonic insects are extremely sensitive and have a clear size and sensitivity ratio advantage over equally responsive microphones.

In particular, condenser microphones (used in hearing research, plus the automotive and music industries) are expensive, mechanically fragile, susceptible to humidity and not very sensitive.

By constructing network analogues between mechanical (insect) and electrical (microphone) systems, this project can advance research into the design and construction of ultrasensitive microphones with unusual broad frequency responses.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Lincoln. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Lincoln. "Ultrasonic sounds of the rainforest." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130405082548.htm>.
University of Lincoln. (2013, April 5). Ultrasonic sounds of the rainforest. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130405082548.htm
University of Lincoln. "Ultrasonic sounds of the rainforest." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130405082548.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins