Below is the abstract for our most recent article in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Numerous animals produce sounds during interactions with potential predators, yet little is known about the acoustics of these sounds, especially in marine environments. California spiny lobsters (Panulirus interruptus) produce pulsatile rasps when interacting with potential predators. They generate sound using frictional structures located at the base of each antenna. This study probes three issues—the effect of body size on signal features, behavioral modification of sound features, and the influence of the ambient environment on the signal. Body size and file length were positively correlated, and larger animals produced lower pulse rate rasps. Ambient noise levels (149.3 dB re 1 µPa) acoustically obscured many rasps (150.4±2.0 dB re 1 µPa) at distances from 0.9–1.4 m. Significantly higher numbers of pulses, pulse rate, and rasp duration were produced in rasps generated with two antennae compared to rasps produced with only one antenna. Strong periodic resonances were measured in tank-recorded rasps, whereas field-recorded rasps had little frequency structure. Spiny lobster rasps exhibit flexibility in acoustic signal features, but their propagation is constrained, perhaps beneficially, by the noisy marine environment. Examining the connections between behavior, environment, and acoustics is critical for understanding this fundamental type of animal communication.