Sound source localization and segregation with internally coupled ears: the treefrog model

Mark A. Bee, Jakob Christensen-Dalsgaard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Acoustic signaling plays key roles in mediating many of the reproductive and social behaviors of anurans (frogs and toads). Moreover, acoustic signaling often occurs at night, in structurally complex habitats, such as densely vegetated ponds, and in dense breeding choruses characterized by high levels of background noise and acoustic clutter. Fundamental to anuran behavior is the ability of the auditory system to determine accurately the location from where sounds originate in space (sound source localization) and to assign specific sounds in the complex acoustic milieu of a chorus to their correct sources (sound source segregation). Here, we review anatomical, biophysical, neurophysiological, and behavioral studies aimed at identifying how the internally coupled ears of frogs contribute to sound source localization and segregation. Our review focuses on treefrogs in the genus Hyla, as they are the most thoroughly studied frogs in terms of sound source localization and segregation. They also represent promising model systems for future work aimed at understanding better how internally coupled ears contribute to sound source localization and segregation. We conclude our review by enumerating directions for future research on these animals that will require the collaborative efforts of biologists, physicists, and roboticists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-290
Number of pages20
JournalBiological Cybernetics
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Norman Lee, Peter Narins, and Leo van Hemmen for their comments on an earlier draft. MAB was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (IOS-1452831) and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (R01 DC00958). JCD was supported by a grant from the Danish National Science Foundation (DFF1323-00132).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Auditory grouping
  • Auditory scene analysis
  • Auditory stream segregation
  • Pressure difference receiver
  • Pressure gradient receiver


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