DOI: 10.1121/10.0025286 ISSN: 0001-4966

Importance of the receiver's height for transmission studies in acoustic ecology

Carlos Iglesias-Merchan, Diego Llusia, Rafael Márquez
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

In animal communication, the sound pressure level (SPL) of the acoustic signals has been studied in relation to various biological functions. Previous research reported that senders and receivers benefit from being at elevated positions. However, sometimes, researchers find contradictory results. Using a transmission experiment, we measured SPL of two acoustic stimuli: (i) white noise, and (ii) advertisement calls of the Iberian tree frog (Hyla molleri) at two different heights above ground level (0.05 and 0.75 m) and from six distances (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32 m) from a loudspeaker. Calls of the Iberian tree frog have two spectral peaks centred at the frequencies of ca. 1 and 2 kHz. As expected, SPL decreased with distance, but following a distinct attenuation pattern across height above the ground and frequency. Our findings show that the ground effect may critically alter frequency attenuation and, therefore, signal composition and discrimination at the listener's location, even at low heights above the ground. We suggest that recording devices should be positioned at the same height that natural listeners are usually located in nature, to facilitate the replication and comparison of experiments in the field of acoustic ecology and, also, bioacoustics.

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