Habitat-specific Signal Structure for Olfaction: An Example from Artificial Streams
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- Moore, P.A., Grills, J.L. & Schneider, R.W.S. J Chem Ecol (2000) 26: 565. doi:10.1023/A:1005482027152
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Many animals use chemical signals to acquire information about their habitats. The structure of this information is dependent upon specific features within a habitat, and the information in signals can be habitat-specific. We quantified the spatial and temporal information in an aquatic odor plume in three different artificial stream habitats with different substrate types by measuring turbulent odor plumes with an electrochemical detection system. Streams had one of three substrate types that correlated with typical aquatic habitats: sand (≈4.2 × 10−2 cm diameter), gravel (≈2.5 cm), and cobble (≈4.5 cm). As predicted from the hydrodynamics, the spatial and temporal structures of the signals were different on different substrates. Spectral analysis showed that the sand and cobble substrates had signals that were dominated by lower frequency fluctuations, whereas gravel had the highest and broadest range of signal fluctuations. Cross- and autocorrelations showed that signals on the gravel substrate had the largest spatial and shortest temporal components. Our results imply that the information obtained from chemical signals may be limited in some habitats. These constraints on information may affect how organisms perform chemically mediated behaviors.