Old world frog and bird vocalizations contain prominent ultrasonic harmonics

J Acoust Soc Am. 2004 Feb;115(2):910-3. doi: 10.1121/1.1636851.


Several groups of mammals such as bats, dolphins and whales are known to produce ultrasonic signals which are used for navigation and hunting by means of echolocation, as well as for communication. In contrast, frogs and birds produce sounds during night- and day-time hours that are audible to humans; their sounds are so pervasive that together with those of insects, they are considered the primary sounds of nature. Here we show that an Old World frog (Amolops tormotus) and an oscine songbird (Abroscopus albogularis) living near noisy streams reliably produce acoustic signals that contain prominent ultrasonic harmonics. Our findings provide the first evidence that anurans and passerines are capable of generating tonal ultrasonic call components and should stimulate the quest for additional ultrasonic species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Communication
  • Animals
  • China
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Noise
  • Perceptual Masking / physiology*
  • Ranidae / physiology*
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Songbirds / physiology*
  • Sound Spectrography*
  • Ultrasonics*
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology*