Sound Production

Research in fish acoustics at Auburn University
Department of Fisheries
Carol E. Johnston

Research is focused on discovering and describing sounds produced by North American freshwater fishes.  This information is used to understand the evolution of acoustic signals in the study species, and future work is aimed at understanding the role of acoustic signals in mate choice, speciation and male:male assessment, and the potential of acoustic signals for population monitoring.

Graduate students involved: Cathy Nordfelt, PhD candidate, is working on the evolution of signals in Cyprinella, including geographic variation in Cyprinella galactura, and is also working on the sturgeon project.

Focal groups
Sturgeon: Current work is aimed at documentation of sound production in Scaphirhynchus. Preliminary work shows that they do produce sounds during the breeding season. Future work will include examination of species-specific signals and location of spawning areas in natural habitats. This work is funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and was conducted at the Natchitoches Fish Hatchery, LA.

Pallid Sturgeon

Shovelnose Sturgeon



Minnows: Most of our focus is on the evolution of signal structure in Cyprinella, which involves recording and describing sounds made during aggressive encounters and spawning/courtship. Cathy Nordfelt is looking at geographic signal variation in C. galactura: do acoustic signals evolve faster than morphological traits? Sound production has also been discovered in Pimephales (with Dawn Johnson) and Codoma (with Steve Vives).

C. Galactura from Duck River Drainage


Codoma Ornata

Sound Clip:
minnow



Darters: Our surveys suggest that only darters in the subgenus Catonotus (exclusive of the barcheek group) produce sounds. The use of acoustic signals cannot be predicted by spawning mode (other cavity nesters, Boleosma, do not make sounds), bright coloration (other drab species don’t make sounds - E. parvipinne, E. proliare) or even phylogeny (barcheeks don’t produce sounds).

Etheostoma Corona

Sound Clip:
darter

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