, Volume 199, Issue 8, pp 723-733
Date: 09 Jun 2013

Severe constraints for sound communication in a frog from the South American temperate forest

Abstract

The efficiency of acoustic communication depends on the power generated by the sound source, the quality of the environment across which signals propagate, the environmental noise and the sensitivity of the intended receivers. Eupsophus calcaratus, an anuran from the temperate austral forest, communicates by means of an advertisement call of weak intensity in a sound-attenuating environment. To estimate the range over which these frogs communicate effectively, we conducted measurements of sound level and degradation patterns of propagating advertisement calls in the field, and measurements of auditory thresholds to pure tones and to natural calls in laboratory conditions. The results show that E. calcaratus produces weak advertisement calls of about 72 dB sound pressure level (SPL) at 0.25 m from the caller. The signals are affected by attenuation and degradation patterns as they propagate in their native environment, reaching average values of 61 and 51 dB SPL at 1 and 2 m from the sound source, respectively. Midbrain multi-unit recordings show a relatively low auditory sensitivity, with thresholds of about 58 dB SPL for conspecific calls, which are likely to restrict communication to distances shorter than 2 m, a remarkably short range as compared to other anurans.