PhD Candidate, Fernanda Duque, Publishes Paper in Science Advances on High-Frequency Hearing in Hummingbirds

Many species use vocalizations as part of their communication and interactions, and hummingbirds are not the exception. In fact, some species of hummingbirds have developed extraordinary high-pitched signals. Until recently, however, there was no evidence showing that these hummingbirds could hear high-pitched sounds. Fernanda G. Duque, a PhD candidate in Neuroscience Institute at GSU, co-advised by Dr. Laura Carruth and Dr. Walter Wilczynski, and a team of collaborators are tackling this and other questions to understand the evolution of high-frequency vocalizations in hummingbirds. In their latest research article published in the journal Science Advances, they found behavioral and neural evidence that at least one hummingbird can hear its high-pitched song. They conducted field and controlled experiments to evaluate the behavioral responses of hummingbirds in the field, as well as the neural responses in the auditory regions of the hummingbird brain in response to the playback of its high-pitched song. This is the first evidence that a bird can hear high-pitched sounds beyond 10 kHz, except for some owls which have exceptional hearing for hunting.

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