Bioacoustics Theories

  • Almo Farina


Four major hypotheses are considered relevant in the perceiving and communicating processes common to all animal species: the morphological adaptation hypothesis (MAH), acoustic adaptation hypothesis (AAH), acoustic niche hypothesis (ANH), and species recognition hypothesis (SRH).

The morphological adaptation hypothesis (MAH) refers to the role of body size as a biological constraint of the vocalization organs and their acoustic performances, confirming an inverse relationship between acoustic frequencies and body size.

The acoustic adaptation hypothesis (AAH) states that the environment is an important cause of modification and alteration of the acoustic signals. Dominant frequencies and other long-distance calls are the result of an interaction between the animals and the environment to maximize the efficiency of the emitted sounds. Frequency and structure of the acoustic repertoire are plastic traits that can be modified according to the environmental constraint.

The acoustic niche hypothesis (ANH) states that every species has a unique acoustic space in which to structure the sonic species-specific signature to reduce interspecific competition and to optimize intraspecific communication mechanisms.

The species recognition hypothesis (SRH) supposes that species living in sympatry try to reduce the risk of utilizing similar sonic traits that could confound species in reproduction and create the risk of hybridizations. This set of hypotheses has epistemic relationships to form a meta-bioacoustic theory.


Acoustic Signal Song Type Acoustic Performance Song Repertoire Song Performance 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Almo Farina
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Basic Sciences and FoundationsUrbino UniversityUrbinoItaly

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