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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Marcos Gridi-Papp

First Committee Member

Ryan Hill

Second Committee Member

Eric Thomas


Sound does not transmit well across the interface of two media. Therefore, most organisms communicate using one medium. Some anurans vocalize at the interface of air and water, though reception of these vocalizations is generally unknown. The túngara frog ( Engystomops pustulosus ) may be the first anuran to have evidence suggesting simultaneous acoustic communication both above and below the air-water interface. This thesis addresses whether the female túngara frog would be receptive to underwater acoustic signals and if males project their advertisement calls at biologically relevant intensities underwater. Females floated and swam with their eardrums and body walls constantly submerged. Using laser Doppler vibrometry, peak vibrations of female eardrums were found to be centered at about 3.5 kHz in air, but dropped to about 1.4 kHz underwater. The peak velocity of the eardrum was about 0.2 mm/s in air and 0.04 mm/s in water when stimulated with tones at 80 dB relative to 20 µPa. Males projected their advertisement calls with a sound pressure level of 121 dB (at 10 cm, re. 20 µPa) in water and 98 dB (at 10 cm, re. 20 µPa) in air. In relation to air, the dominant frequency of the advertisement call (0.8 kHz) was the most intense spectral band underwater whereas the dominant frequency of the chuck (2.5 kHz in air) was less intense. The advertisement signal for the male túngara frog was broadcasted underwater with more energy than in air at its main frequencies. Female eardrums were sensitive to frequencies within the male advertisement call both in air and in water, if the frequencies were transmitted at amplitudes plausible to be encountered in nature. These results strengthen the available evidence of underwater communication, and indicate the presence of auditory specializations in the acoustic communication of this species.





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