Development of hearing in vertebrates with special reference to anuran acoustic communication

Abstract

Amphibians, specially anurans, are excellent model systems for studying acoustic communication. After hatching, anurans exist in two forms; these have two distinct mode of sound perception. Aquatic larvae are perceptive to waterborne sound stimuli; then, following metamorphosis, as terrestrial adults, perceptive to airborne sound stimuli. Added to this, the metamorphosing tadpole presents an equally interesting study as it could recapitulate the events which occurred during the evolution of hearing in vertebrates at the lime of the transition from aquatic to terrestrial life. Metamorphosis entails the loss of a prominent aquatic sensory system—the lateral line system—and the simultaneous gain of another, the inner ear, along with the coevolution of the tympanic middle ear, a basilar papilla and a periotic labyrinth in the inner ear. Another interesting feature is that anurans are believed to be the first terrestrial vertebrates to use vocalization as a part of their reproductive behaviour. Vocal communication plays an important role in behaviour, ranging from territorial defense to reproduction, and calls are classified according to the particular behaviors that they subserve. Adult male anurans produce a species-specific mating call which is used to attract conspecific females dung their mating season, and this call serves as a mechanism in maintaining reproductive isolation from other sympatric species.

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