Behavioral Ecology

Behavioral Ecology of Fishes
Carol E. Johnston

My work with behavioral ecology includes nesting symbiosis, evolution of spawning behavior, alloparental care, sound production and fighting and assessment.

Nocomis Micropogon, photo by C. E. Johnston

Up to eight other species may spawn over chub nests.  Is this just a big rip for the male, or is something in it for them?  My work has shown that there are benefits to having lots of other eggs in your nest. Current work is aimed at understanding the costs of nest building, in terms of lifetime reproductive success.

 

Spawning Redband Darters, Etheostoma Luteovinctum, photo by C. E. Johnston

Believe it or not, we don’t even know how many North American fishes spawn, including many darters and minnows, ourmost common and abundant fishes. My work is aimed at understanding the evolution of spawning modes in fishes, but first – I have lots of information gaps to fill in.

 

Sound Production in Freshwater Fishes

Etheostoma crosopterum, photo by C. E. Johnston.

Although sound production has been known in many groups of fishes for some time, almost no work has been done investigating this mode of communication in North American freshwater fishes. I have recently discovered sound production in numerous species of minnows, madtom catfishes and in some species darters. Current work is includes description of the sounds and contexts, as well as work with female choice. The role of acoustic signals in the maintainance of species integrity in Cyprinella is a long-term project aimed at understanding the formation of hybrid swarms in the genus.

 

Pygmy sculpin, Cottus paulis, photo by C. E. Johnston

Recent work with nesting ecology of the imperiled pygmy sculpin showed that the species exhibits alloparental care.

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