Sound imaging of nocturnal animal calls in their natural habitat

Takeshi Mizumoto*, Ikkyu Aihara, Takuma Otsuka, Ryu Takeda, Kazuyuki Aihara, Hiroshi G. Okuno

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


We present a novel method for imaging acoustic communication between nocturnal animals. Investigating the spatio-temporal calling behavior of nocturnal animals, e.g., frogs and crickets, has been difficult because of the need to distinguish many animals' calls in noisy environments without being able to see them. Our method visualizes the spatial and temporal dynamics using dozens of sound-to-light conversion devices (called "Firefly") and an off-the-shelf video camera. The Firefly, which consists of a microphone and a light emitting diode, emits light when it captures nearby sound. Deploying dozens of Fireflies in a target area, we record calls of multiple individuals through the video camera. We conduct two experiments, one indoors and the other in the field, using Japanese tree frogs (Hyla japonica). The indoor experiment demonstrates that our method correctly visualizes Japanese tree frogs' calling behavior. It has confirmed the known behavior; two frogs call synchronously or in anti-phase synchronization. The field experiment (in a rice paddy where Japanese tree frogs live) also visualizes the same calling behavior to confirm anti-phase synchronization in the field. Experimental results confirm that our method can visualize the calling behavior of nocturnal animals in their natural habitat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)915-921
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Sept
Externally publishedYes


  • Acoustic communication
  • Measurement method
  • Nocturnal animal
  • Sound imaging
  • Visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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