Sound production of the banded Sculpin, Cottus carolinae

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Environmental Biology of Fishes



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Acoustic communication, Cavity nesting, Freshwater fish, Mate choice


© 2020, Springer Nature B.V. The use of sound in social interactions has been documented in several species of sculpin and may be used to convey information concerning species identity, intent, or fitness. Sound production may be a particularly important mode of communication in sculpin due to their nocturnal behavior and construction of nests in rock cavities where the efficacy of visual cues may be diminished. In this study, we describe acoustic signals produced during conspecific behavioral interactions in Cottus carolinae, and compare signal characteristics to the only other known sounds producers in the genus Cottus including C. gobio, C. rhenanus, C. perifretum, C. bairdii, and C. paulus. Sounds were produced during nocturnal encounters between cavity residents and intruders, and consisted of pulsatile signals that were arranged into pulse trains with remarkably long pulse intervals of approximately 1 s, as well as tonal sounds in which the periodicity was increased to approximately 60 Hz. We found no relationship between fish standard length and pulse instantaneous frequency or total pulse train duration, but did find a positive correlation between fish standard length and pulse duration, as well as position of pulse interval within the pulse train. We found that C. carolinae pulse train structure differed significantly from that of other published sculpin species, and that C. carolinae produce tonal sounds; a characteristic unique within the genus Cottus.

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