Mechanics of a 'simple' ear: tympanal vibrations in noctuid moths

J.F.C. Windmill, J. Fullard, D. Robert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Anatomically, the ears of moths are considered to be among the simplest ears found in animals. Microscanning laser vibrometry was used to examine the surface vibrations of the entire tympanal region of the ears of the noctuid moths Agrotis exclamationis, Noctua pronuba, Xestia c-nigrum and Xestia triangulum. During stimulation with ultrasound at intensities known to activate receptor neurones, the tympanum vibrates with maximum deflection amplitudes at the location where the receptor cells attach. In the reportedly heterogeneous tympana of noctuid moths, this attachment site is an opaque zone that is surrounded by a transparent, thinner cuticular region. In response to sound pressure, this region moves relatively little compared with the opaque zone. Thus, the deflections of the moth tympanic membrane are not those of a simple circular drum. The acoustic sensitivity of the ear of N. pronuba, as measured on the attachment site, is 100±14 nm Pa–1 (N=10), corresponding to tympanal motion of a mere 200 pm at sound pressure levels near the neural threshold.
LanguageEnglish
Pages2637-2648
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume210
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2007

Fingerprint

Moths
Vibration
Mechanics
vibration
mechanics
Noctuidae
moth
Ear
Noctua pronuba
ears
Middle Ear
deflection
moths
Xestia c-nigrum
Xestia
drums (equipment)
Pressure
Agrotis
Tympanic Membrane
receptors

Keywords

  • bioacoustics
  • hearing
  • tympanal membrane
  • Lepidoptera

Cite this

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abstract = "Anatomically, the ears of moths are considered to be among the simplest ears found in animals. Microscanning laser vibrometry was used to examine the surface vibrations of the entire tympanal region of the ears of the noctuid moths Agrotis exclamationis, Noctua pronuba, Xestia c-nigrum and Xestia triangulum. During stimulation with ultrasound at intensities known to activate receptor neurones, the tympanum vibrates with maximum deflection amplitudes at the location where the receptor cells attach. In the reportedly heterogeneous tympana of noctuid moths, this attachment site is an opaque zone that is surrounded by a transparent, thinner cuticular region. In response to sound pressure, this region moves relatively little compared with the opaque zone. Thus, the deflections of the moth tympanic membrane are not those of a simple circular drum. The acoustic sensitivity of the ear of N. pronuba, as measured on the attachment site, is 100±14 nm Pa–1 (N=10), corresponding to tympanal motion of a mere 200 pm at sound pressure levels near the neural threshold.",
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Mechanics of a 'simple' ear : tympanal vibrations in noctuid moths. / Windmill, J.F.C.; Fullard, J.; Robert, D.

In: Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol. 210, 01.08.2007, p. 2637-2648.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Fullard, J.

AU - Robert, D.

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AB - Anatomically, the ears of moths are considered to be among the simplest ears found in animals. Microscanning laser vibrometry was used to examine the surface vibrations of the entire tympanal region of the ears of the noctuid moths Agrotis exclamationis, Noctua pronuba, Xestia c-nigrum and Xestia triangulum. During stimulation with ultrasound at intensities known to activate receptor neurones, the tympanum vibrates with maximum deflection amplitudes at the location where the receptor cells attach. In the reportedly heterogeneous tympana of noctuid moths, this attachment site is an opaque zone that is surrounded by a transparent, thinner cuticular region. In response to sound pressure, this region moves relatively little compared with the opaque zone. Thus, the deflections of the moth tympanic membrane are not those of a simple circular drum. The acoustic sensitivity of the ear of N. pronuba, as measured on the attachment site, is 100±14 nm Pa–1 (N=10), corresponding to tympanal motion of a mere 200 pm at sound pressure levels near the neural threshold.

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