, Volume 196, Issue 7, pp 453-462

Auditory sensitivity and ecological relevance: the functional audiogram as modelled by the bat detecting moth ear

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Abstract

Auditory sensitivity has often been measured by identifying neural threshold in real-time (online) which can introduce bias in the audiograms that are produced. We tested this by recording auditory nerve activity of the notodontid moth Nadata gibbosa elicited by bat-like ultrasound and analysing the response offline. We compared this audiogram with a published online audiogram showing that the bias introduced can result in a difference in the audiogram shape. In the second part of our study we compared offline audiograms using spike number as threshold with others that used spike period and stimulus/spike latency, variables that have been suggested as providing behaviourally functional criteria. These comparisons reveal that functional audiograms are more flatly tuned than simple spike audiograms. The shapes of behavioural audiograms are discussed in the context of the selection pressure that maintains their shape, bat predation. Finally, we make predictions on the distance from bats at which notodontid moths use negative phonotaxis or the acoustic startle response.