Gordon SD. ter Hofstede HM.  In Press.  The influence of bat echolocation call duration and timing on auditory encoding of predator distance in noctuoid moths. The Journal of Experimental Biology

Gordon SD. ter Hofstede HM. In Press. The influence of bat echolocation call duration and timing on auditory encoding of predator distance in noctuoid moths. The Journal of Experimental Biology

Abstract: Animals co-occur with multiple predators, making sensory systems that can encode information about diverse predators advantageous. Moths in the families Noctuidae and Erebidae have ears with two auditory receptor cells (A1 and A2) used to detect the echolocation calls of predatory bats. Bat communities contain species that vary in echolocation call duration, and the dynamic range of A1 is limited by the duration of sound, suggesting that A1 provides less information about bats with shorter echolocation calls. To test this hypothesis, we obtained intensity-response functions for both receptor cells across many moth species for sound pulse durations representing the range of echolocation call durations produced by bat species in northeastern North America. We found that the threshold and dynamic range of both cells varied with sound pulse duration. The number of A1 action potentials per sound pulse increases linearly with increasing amplitude for long duration pulses, saturating near A2 threshold. For short sound pulses, however, A1 saturates with only a few action potentials per pulse at amplitudes far lower than the A2 threshold for both single sound pulses and pulse sequences typical of searching or approaching bats. Neural adaptation was only evident in response to approaching bat sequences at high amplitudes, not search phase sequences. These results show that, for short echolocation calls, a large range of sound levels cannot be coded by moth auditory receptor activity, resulting in no information about the distance of a bat, although differences in activity between ears might provide information about direction.   Gordon and ter Hofstede. 2018  The influence of bat echolocation call duration and timing on auditory encoding of predator...
Gordon SD, Klenschi E, Windmill JFC.  2017.  Hearing on the fly: the effects of wing position on noctuid moth hearing.  Journal of Experimental Biology. 220:1952-1955

Gordon SD, Klenschi E, Windmill JFC. 2017. Hearing on the fly: the effects of wing position on noctuid moth hearing. Journal of Experimental Biology. 220:1952-1955

The ear of the noctuid moth has only two auditory neurons, A1 and A2, which function in detecting predatory bats. However, the noctuid’s ears are located on the thorax behind the wings. Therefore, since these moths need to hear during flight, it was hypothesized that wing position may affect their hearing. The wing was fixed in three different positions: up, flat, and down. An additional subset of animals was measured with freely moving wings. In order to negate any possible acoustic shadowing or diffractive effects, all wings were snipped, leaving the proximal most portion and the wing hinge intact. Results revealed that wing position plays a factor in threshold sensitivity of the less sensitive auditory neuron A2, but not in the more sensitive neuron A1. Furthermore, when the wing was set in the down position, fewer A1 action potentials were generated prior to the initiation of A2 activity. Analyzing the motion of the tympanal membrane did not reveal differences in movement due to wing position. Therefore, these neural differences due to wing position are proposed to be due to other factors within the animal such as different muscle tensions.   Gordon SD, Klenschi E, Windmill JFC. 2017. Hearing on the fly: the effects of wing position on noctuid moth hearing. Journal of Experimental Biology....
Gordon SD, Windmill JFC.  2015.  Hearing ability decreases in ageing locusts.  J. of Experimental Biology.  218:1990-199

Gordon SD, Windmill JFC. 2015. Hearing ability decreases in ageing locusts. J. of Experimental Biology. 218:1990-199

Insects display signs of ageing, despite their short lifespan. However, the limited studies on senescence emphasize longevity or reproduction. We focused on the hearing ability of ageing adult locusts, Schistocerca gregaria. Our results indicate that the youngest adults (2 weeks post-maturity) have a greater overall neurophysiological response to sound, especially for low frequencies (<10 kHz), as well as a shorter latency to this neural response. Interestingly, when measuring displacement of the tympanal membrane that the receptor neurons directly attach to, we found movement is not directly correlated with neural response. Therefore, we suggest the enhanced response in younger animals is due to the condition of their tissues (e.g. elasticity). Secondly, we found the sexes do not have the same responses, particularly at 4 weeks post-adult moult. We propose female reproductive condition reduces their ability to receive sounds. Overall our results indicate older animals, especially females, are less sensitive to sounds. Gordon SD, Windmill JFC. 2015. Hearing ability decreases in ageing locusts. J. of Experimental Biology....
Gordon SD, Jackson JC, Rogers SM, Windmill JFC.  2014.  Listening to the Environment:  Hearing Differences from an Epigenetic Effect in Solitarious and Gregarious Locusts.  Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 281 no. 1795 20141693

Gordon SD, Jackson JC, Rogers SM, Windmill JFC. 2014. Listening to the Environment: Hearing Differences from an Epigenetic Effect in Solitarious and Gregarious Locusts. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 281 no. 1795 20141693

Locusts display a striking form of phenotypic plasticity, developing into either a lone-living solitarious phase or a swarming gregarious phase depending on population density. The two phases differ extensively in appearance, behaviour, and physiology. We found that solitarious and gregarious locusts have clear differences in their hearing, both in their tympanal and neuronal responses. We identified significant differences in the shape of the tympana that may be responsible for the variations in hearing between locust phases. We measured the nanometre mechanical responses of the ear’s tympanal membrane to sound, finding that solitarious animals exhibit greater displacement. Finally, neural experiments signified that solitarious locusts have a relatively stronger response to high frequencies. The enhanced response to high frequency sounds in the nocturnally flying solitarious locusts suggests greater investment in detecting the ultrasonic echolocation calls of bats, to which they are more vulnerable than diurnally active gregarious locusts. This study highlights the importance of epigenetic effects set forth during development and begins to identify how animals are equipped to match their immediate environmental needs. Gordon SD, Jackson JC, Rogers SM, Windmill JFC.  2014.  Listening to the Environment:  Hearing Differences from an Epigenetic Effect in Solitarious and Gregarious Locusts.  Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 281 no. 1795...
Eberhard MJB*, Gordon SD*, Windmill JFC, Ronacher B.  2014. Temperature effects on the tympanal membrane and auditory receptor neurons in the locust. Journal of Comparative Physiology A.  200:837-847 * These authors contributed equally

Eberhard MJB*, Gordon SD*, Windmill JFC, Ronacher B. 2014. Temperature effects on the tympanal membrane and auditory receptor neurons in the locust. Journal of Comparative Physiology A. 200:837-847 * These authors contributed equally

Poikilothermic animals are affected by variations in environmental temperature, as the basic properties of nerve cells and muscles are altered. Nevertheless, insect sensory systems, such as the auditory system, need to function effectively over a wide range of temperatures, as sudden changes of up to 10 °C or more are common. We investigated the performance of auditory receptor neurons and properties of the tympanal membrane of Locusta migratoria in response to temperature changes. Intracellular recordings of receptors at two temperatures (21 and 28 °C) revealed a moderate increase in spike rate with a mean Q10 of 1.4. With rising temperature, the spike rate–intensity–functions exhibited small decreases in thresholds and expansions of the dynamic range, while spike durations decreased. Tympanal membrane displacement, investigated using microscanning laser vibrometry, exhibited a small temperature effect, with a Q10 of 1.2. These findings suggest that locusts are affected by shifts in temperature at the periphery of the auditory pathway, but the effects on spike rate, sensitivity, and tympanal membrane displacement are small. Robust encoding of acoustic signals by only slightly temperature-dependent receptor neurons and almost temperature-independent tympanal membrane properties might enable locusts and grasshoppers to reliably identify sounds in spite of changes of their body temperature. Eberhard MJB*, Gordon SD*, Windmill JFC, Ronacher B.  2014. Temperature effects on the tympanal membrane and auditory receptor neurons in the locust. Journal of Comparative Physiology A.  200:837-847 * These authors contributed...