Multivariate classification of animal communication signals: A simulation-based comparison of alternative signal processing procedures using electric fishes



W. G. R. Crampton; J. K. Davis; N. R. Lovejoy;M. Pensky


Authors: contact us about adding a copy of your work at STARS@ucf.edu

Abbreviated Journal Title

J. Physiol.-Paris


Communication; Gymnotiformes; Gymnotus; Fourier transform; Short-time; Fourier transform; Spectrogram; Wavelet analysis; FREQUENCY-RESPONSE CHARACTERISTICS; ORGAN DISCHARGES; PULSE DISCHARGE; ELECTRORECEPTORS; ELECTROLOCATION; GYMNOTOIDEI; MECHANISMS; DIVERSITY; TELEOSTEI; EVOLUTION; Neurosciences; Physiology


Evolutionary studies of communication can benefit from classification procedures that allow individual animals to be assigned to groups (e.g. species) on the basis of high-dimension data representing their signals. Prior to classification, signals are usually transformed by a signal processing procedure into structural features. Applications of these signal processing procedures to animal communication have been largely restricted to the manual or semi-automated identification of landmark features from graphical representations of signals. Nonetheless, theory predicts that automated time-frequency-based digital signal processing (DSP) procedures can represent signals more efficiently (using fewer features) than can landmark procedures or frequency-based DSP - allowing more accurate classification. Moreover, DSP procedures are objective in that they require little previous knowledge of signal diversity, and are relatively free from potentially ungrounded assumptions of cross-taxon homology. Using a model data set of electric organ discharge waveforms from five sympatric species of the electric fish Gymnotus, we adopted an exhaustive simulation approach to investigate the classificatory performance of different signal processing procedures. We considered a landmark procedure, a frequency-based DSP procedure (the fast Fourier transform), and two kinds of time-frequency-based DSP procedures (a short-time Fourier transform, and several implementations of the discrete wavelet transform -DWT). The features derived from each of these signal processing procedures were then subjected to dimension reduction procedures to separate those features which permit the most effective discrimination among groups of signalers. We considered four alternative dimension reduction methods. Finally, each combination of reduced data was Submitted to classification by linear discriminant analysis. Our results support theoretical predictions that time-frequency DSP procedures (especially DWT) permit more efficient discrimination of groups. The performance of signal processing was found to depend largely upon the dimension reduction procedure employed, and upon the number of resulting features. Because the best combinations of procedures are dataset-dependent and difficult to predict, we conclude that simulations of the kind described here, or at least simplified versions of them, should be routinely executed before classification of animal signals - especially unfamiliar ones. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Journal Title

Journal of Physiology-Paris





Publication Date


Document Type




First Page


Last Page


WOS Identifier