Masters Research

MSc. Thesis

Hearing physiology of the northern grasshopper mouse

  • Using the auditory brainstem response, I studied whether the hearing of the mice matched to their vocalization frequency

  • I discovered that their hearing, indeed, conforms to the "matched filter" hypothesis

Publication: D.M. Green, T. Scolman, O.W. Guthrie, B. Pasch. (2019) An extended matched filter between call frequency and auditory sensitivity in northern grasshopper mice (Onychomys leucogaster). Journal of Comp. Phys A. 205(4): 481-489.

Active space of the northern grasshopper mouse

  • Conducting a playback study in their natural habitat, I found that their vocalizations can travel up to 50m and still be detected

About the Northern Grasshopper Mouse

Onychomys leucogaster

Found in a wide variety of open habitats, grassland to sagebrush desert, the Northern Grasshopper Mouse is found through most of the western US and Canada. They may construct their own burrows or usurp others, such as prairie dog burrows. They are a carnivorous rodent, with animal matter is up to 80% of diet in spring, 60% of diet in midwinter. While they primarily eats arthropods (grasshoppers, crickets, scorpions), they have also been documented to eat small reptiles and other small mammals. They are highly territorial and mark their boundaries with a stinky scent they excrete. They occur at low densities and intraspecific interactions are aggressive.

They are most notable for being immune to scorpion venom and for the high pitch "howl" they produce when emerging from their burrows at night. The exact function of the howl is unknown, but evidence suggests its to communication across long distances for territory guarding.