Ultrasound detection by clupeiform fishes

J Acoust Soc Am. 2001 Jun;109(6):3048-54. doi: 10.1121/1.1368406.


It has previously been shown that at least one species of fish (the American shad) in the order clupeiforms (herrings, shads, and relatives) is able to detect sounds up to 180 kHz. However, it has not been clear whether other members of this order are also able to detect ultrasound. It is now demonstrated, using auditory brainstem response (ABR), that at least one additional species, the gulf menhaden (Brevoortia patronus), is able to detect ultrasound, while several other species including the bay anchovy (Anchoa mitchilli), scaled sardine (Harengula jaguana), and Spanish sardine (Sardinella aurita) only detect sounds to about 4 kHz. ABR is used to confirm ultrasonic hearing in the American shad. The results suggest that ultrasound detection may be limited to one subfamily of clupeiforms, the Alosinae. It is suggested that ultrasound detection involves the utricle of the inner ear and speculate as to why, despite having similar ear structures, only one group may detect ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Brain Stem / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem / physiology
  • Fishes / physiology*
  • Hearing / physiology
  • Signal Detection, Psychological / physiology*
  • Ultrasonics*