The acoustic environment of swift foxes Vulpes velox vocalizing close to the ground and the effect of propagation on individual identity information in vocalizations were quantified in a transmission experiment in prairie habitat. Sounds were propagated (0.45 m above the ground) at distances up to 400 m. Effects of transmission were measured on three sound types: synthesized sweeps with 1.3 kHz bandwidths spanning in the range of 0.3-8.0 kHz; single elements of swift fox barking sequences (frequency range of 0.3-4.0 kHz) and complete barking sequences. Synthesized sweeps spanning 0.3-1.6 and 1.2-2.5 kHz propagated the furthest and the latter sweeps exhibited the best transmission properties for long-range propagation. Swift fox barking sequence elements are centered toward the lower end of this frequency range. Nevertheless, measurable individual spectral characteristics of the barking sequence seem to persist to at least 400 m. Individual temporal features were very consistent to at least 400 m. The communication range of the barking sequences is likely to be farther than 400 m and it should be considered a long-ranging vocalization. However, relative to the large home ranges of swift foxes (up to 16 km(2) in the experimental area) the barking sequence probably functions at intermediate distances.
KEYWORDS: Acoustic Stimulation; Acoustics; Animals; Ecosystem; Foxes; Models, Statistical; Motion; Sound; Sound Localization; Sound Spectrography; Time Factors; Vocalization, Animal