Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 205, Issue 4, pp 481–489 | Cite as

A broad filter between call frequency and peripheral auditory sensitivity in northern grasshopper mice (Onychomys leucogaster)

  • Dana M. GreenEmail author
  • Tucker Scolman
  • O’neil W. Guthrie
  • Bret Pasch
Original Paper


Acoustic communication is a fundamental component of mate and competitor recognition in a variety of taxa and requires animals to detect and differentiate among acoustic stimuli (Bradbury and Vehrencamp in Principles of animal communication, 2nd edn., Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, 2011). The matched filter hypothesis predicts a correspondence between peripheral auditory tuning of receivers and properties of species-specific acoustic signals, but few studies have assessed this relationship in rodents. We recorded vocalizations and measured auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) in northern grasshopper mice (Onychomys leucogaster), a species that produces long-distance calls to advertise their presence to rivals and potential mates. ABR data indicate the highest sensitivity (28.33 ± 9.07 dB SPL re: 20 μPa) at 10 kHz, roughly corresponding to the fundamental frequency (11.6 ± 0.63 kHz) of long-distance calls produced by conspecifics. However, the frequency range of peripheral auditory sensitivity was broad (8–24 kHz), indicating the potential to detect both the harmonics of conspecific calls and vocalizations of sympatric heterospecifics. Our findings provide support for the matched filter hypothesis extended to include other ecologically relevant stimuli. Our study contributes important baseline information about the sensory ecology of a unique rodent to the study of sound perception.


Acoustic communication Auditory brainstem response Matched filter Onychomys 



We thank Dr. Scott Nichols for his veterinary assistance and Madeline Bloomquist, Grace Griffiths, and Nathaniel Mull for their assistance with maintaining the mouse colony.


This study was funded by the E.O. Wilson Conservation award from the Animal Behavior Society (DG), Northern Arizona University (DG; BP), and the National Science Foundation- IOS # 1755429 (BP).

Compliance of ethical standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards and approval of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at Northern Arizona University (#15-014 and #16-001) and guidelines of the American Society of Mammalogists (Sikes et al. 2016). Founder animals were captured with a permit from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (# 3562).

Supplementary material

359_2019_1338_MOESM1_ESM.eps (1.4 mb)
Fig. S1 Auditory brainstem response (ABR) of an individual northern grasshopper mouse in response to a 0.1 ms mono-phasic click stimulus presented at a rate of 21 presentations/second. I, II, and III refer to ABR waveforms


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dana M. Green
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tucker Scolman
    • 1
  • O’neil W. Guthrie
    • 2
    • 3
  • Bret Pasch
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  2. 2.Cell and Molecular Pathology Laboratory, Department of Communication Sciences and DisorderNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  3. 3.Center for Bioengineering InnovationNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  4. 4.Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental ResearchNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA

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