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 Micheal L. Dent
Department of Psychology University at Buffalo State University of New York Buffalo, New York 14260 USA
Animal Psychoacoustics
Animal psychoacoustics is an instrumental tool for our understanding of how nonhumans perceive the world around them.
Acoustic communication is vital for any living being. An antelope unable to hear a lion pride sneaking up on it (Figure 1) will be dinner for those lions, especially at night when visual cues are minimal. On the other side of the coin, predators unable to hear the rustling of prey will go hungry for a long time, likely leading to starvation. Across the animal kingdom, acoustic communication is also used for mate attraction, courtship rituals, offspring detection and recognition, territorial- ity, conflict resolution, coordinating hunts, and alarm signaling. Although some animals will use multiple sensory modalities across these communication contexts, acoustic communication has the benefit of traveling long distances, not requiring a direct line for communication, and working day, night, or in dense environments. Acoustic signals can also be cryptic, such as narrowband high-frequency predator detection signals, which can be sent to warn conspecifics about danger without giving away the sender’s location (Bradbury and Vehrencamp, 2011).
Figure 1. Lions (Panthera leo). Photo courtesy of Barry E. Hill, used with permission.
Acoustic communication can be broken down into several components, each of which can be studied independently but all of which are critical for the communi- cation process: signals, environments, and receivers (Bradbury and Vehrencamp, 2011). Different signals are generally effective in their transmission through the environment (Wiley and Richards, 1978). Low-frequency signals travel farther, but small animals often cannot generate low-frequency signals. The environment can impose a number of other constraints on acoustic signals, including changing the temporal and spectral properties of a signal as it travels from the sender to the receiver. Sounds propagating in the real world can be affected by reflections, scattering, refraction, attenuation, absorption, reverberations, and noise. Receiv-
  ©2017 Acoustical Society of America. All rights reserved. volume 13, issue 3 | Fall 2017 | Acoustics Today | 19

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