Researchers study acoustic communication in deep-sea fish

Sep 24, 2008

An international research team studying sound production in deep-sea fishes has found that cusk-eels use several sets of muscles to produce sound that plays a prominent role in male mating calls.

These findings, published online today in the Royal Society journal, Biology Letters, may help researchers gain further insight into acoustic communication in the deep sea and the role of sound in fish behavior.

Virginia Commonwealth University Life Sciences biologists Michael L. Fine, Ph.D., Kim Nguyen and Hsung Lin, both graduate students at VCU, together with Eric Parmentier at the Université de Liège in Belgium, examined the sonic muscles of the fawn cusk-eel, Lepophidium profundorum, a species found in the Atlantic Ocean.

"Little is known about acoustic communication in the deep sea because of the difficulties of observing fish in this habitat. Based on anatomy, ophidiid fishes, or cusk-eels, are likely one of the chief sound producers. They have unusual sonic muscles that occur in antagonistic pairs and are typically larger in males," said Fine, a professor in the VCU Department of Biology.

Many fish use an organ known as a swim bladder to produce sound. According to Fine, the fawn cusk-eel uses two muscle pairs to pivot a modified rib, 'the wing-like process,' forward. This action stretches the swim bladder. An antagonistic muscle pair then restores the swim bladder to its original position.

In previous work outside of the mating season, they found that the tiny intermediate muscle of the fawn cusk-eel was larger in females, which was quite surprising since male fish are usually more vocal than females, said Fine.

The research team obtained the fish during the summer mating season and found that intermediate muscle weight increased four fold and had become heavier in males than in females.

"Our findings suggest that the intermediate muscle likely assumes a prominent role in sound production of male mating calls and suggest that male sex hormones cause the muscle to grow," he said.

According to Fine, fishes make sounds for different reasons, but the two most common types of sounds are made for courtship and agonistic behaviors.

Source: Virginia Commonwealth University

Explore further: Chickens to chili peppers: Scientists search for the first genetic engineers

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Aggressive piranhas bark to say buzz off

Oct 13, 2011

Thanks to Hollywood, piranhas have a bad reputation and it would be a brave scientist that chose to plunge their hand into a tank of them. But that didn't deter Sandie Millot, Pierre Vandewalle and Eric Parmentier from the ...

Dolphin-power sufficient for propulsion without tricks

Jan 15, 2014

For 60 years the world has believed that dolphins did not have enough muscle to propel them at high speed and that they were resorting to some fluid-flow trickery to pull off their impressive performance. But Frank Fish from ...

Is eating DNA safe?

Dec 05, 2013

Eating DNA sounds scary but it's completely safe. I do it every day. Let me explain.

The night life: Why we need bats all the time

Nov 01, 2012

The sight of bats hanging upside down in creepy caves or fleeing in fluttery flocks from their subterranean haunts at dusk like "bats out of hell" may spook even the most rational, otherwise unflappable observer.

Recommended for you

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

9 hours ago

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...