Amphibians are unique among extant vertebrates in having middle ear cavities that are internally coupled to each other and to the lungs. In frogs, the lung-to-ear sound transmission pathway can influence the tympanum’s inherent directionality, but what role such effects might play in directional hearing remain unclear. In this study of the American green treefrog (Hyla cinerea), we tested the hypothesis that the lung-to-ear sound transmission pathway functions to improve directional hearing, particularly in the context of intraspecific sexual communication. Using laser vibrometry, we measured the tympanum’s vibration amplitude in females in response to a frequency modulated sweep presented from 12 sound incidence angles in azimuth. Tympanum directionality was determined across three states of lung inflation (inflated, deflated, reinflated) both for a single tympanum in the form of the vibration amplitude difference (VAD) and for binaural comparisons in the form of the interaural vibration amplitude difference (IVAD). The state of lung inflation had negligible effects (typically less than 0.5 dB) on both VADs and IVADs at frequencies emphasized in the advertisement calls produced by conspecific males (834 Hz and 2730 Hz). Directionality at the peak resonance frequency of the lungs (1558 Hz) was improved by ≅ 3 dB for a single tympanum when the lungs were inflated versus deflated, but IVADs were not impacted by the state of lung inflation. Based on these results, we reject the hypothesis that the lung-to-ear sound transmission pathway functions to improve directional hearing in frogs.
The 11 data files in this archive accompany the publication: Christensen-Dalsgaard J, Lee N, Bee MA (in press) Lung-to-ear sound transmission does not improve directional hearing in green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea). Journal of Experimental Biology.
Sponsorship: National Science Foundation