Acoustic communication in two freshwater gobies: the relationship between ambient noise, hearing thresholds and sound spectrum

J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2003 Apr;189(4):309-20. doi: 10.1007/s00359-003-0404-4. Epub 2003 Mar 29.


Two freshwater gobies Padogobius martensii and Gobius nigricans live in shallow (5-70 cm) stony streams, and males of both species produce courtship sounds. A previous study demonstrated high noise levels near waterfalls, a quiet window in the noise around 100 Hz at noisy locations, and extremely short-range propagation of noise and goby signals. To investigate the relationship of this acoustic environment to communication, we determined audiograms for both species and measured parameters of courtship sounds produced in the streams. We also deflated the swimbladder in P. martensii to determine its effect on frequency utilization in sound production and hearing. Both species are maximally sensitive at 100 Hz and produce low-frequency sounds with main energy from 70 to 100-150 Hz. Swimbladder deflation does not affect auditory threshold or dominant frequency of courtship sounds and has no or minor effects on sound amplitude. Therefore, both species utilize frequencies for hearing and sound production that fall within the low-frequency quiet region, and the equivalent relationship between auditory sensitivity and maximum ambient noise levels in both species further suggests that ambient noise shapes hearing sensitivity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Air Sacs / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Courtship
  • Ecosystem
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Fresh Water
  • Hearing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Noise*
  • Perciformes / classification
  • Perciformes / physiology*
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Sound Spectrography / methods
  • Species Specificity
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology*
  • Water Movements