Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If You Use a Screen Reader

This content is available through Read Online (Free) program, which relies on page scans. Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.

Flow sensing by pinniped whiskers

L. Miersch, W. Hanke, S. Wieskotten, F. D. Hanke, J. Oeffner, A. Leder, M. Brede, M. Witte and G. Dehnhardt
Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences
Vol. 366, No. 1581, Active touch sensing (12 November 2011), pp. 3077-3084
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23035682
Page Count: 8
  • Read Online (Free)
  • Cite this Item
Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Flow sensing by pinniped whiskers
Preview not available

Abstract

Beside their haptic function, vibrissae of harbour seals (Phocidae) and California sea lions (Otariidae) both represent highly sensitive hydrodynamic receptor systems, although their vibrissal hair shafts differ considerably in structure. To quantify the sensory performance of both hair types, isolated single whiskers were used to measure vortex shedding frequencies produced in the wake of a cylinder immersed in a rotational flow tank. These measurements revealed that both whisker types were able to detect the vortex shedding frequency but differed considerably with respect to the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). While the signal detected by sea lion whiskers was substantially corrupted by noise, harbour seal whiskers showed a higher SNR with largely reduced noise. However, further analysis revealed that in sea lion whiskers, each noise signal contained a dominant frequency suggested to function as a characteristic carrier signal. While in harbour seal whiskers the unique surface structure explains its high sensitivity, this more or less steady fundamental frequency might represent the mechanism underlying hydrodynamic reception in the fast swimming sea lion by being modulated in response to hydrodynamic stimuli impinging on the hair.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
3077
    3077
  • Thumbnail: Page 
3078
    3078
  • Thumbnail: Page 
3079
    3079
  • Thumbnail: Page 
3080
    3080
  • Thumbnail: Page 
3081
    3081
  • Thumbnail: Page 
3082
    3082
  • Thumbnail: Page 
3083
    3083
  • Thumbnail: Page 
3084
    3084