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, 217 (Pt 21), 3862-9

New Insights Into the Role of the Pharyngeal Jaw Apparatus in the Sound-Producing Mechanism of Haemulon Flavolineatum (Haemulidae)

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New Insights Into the Role of the Pharyngeal Jaw Apparatus in the Sound-Producing Mechanism of Haemulon Flavolineatum (Haemulidae)

Frédéric Bertucci et al. J Exp Biol.

Abstract

Grunts are fish that are well known to vocalize, but how they produce their grunting sounds has not been clearly identified. In addition to characterizing acoustic signals and hearing in the French grunt Haemulon flavolineatum, the present study investigates the sound-production mechanism of this species by means of high-speed X-ray videos and scanning electron microscopy of the pharyngeal jaw apparatus. Vocalizations consist of a series of stridulatory sounds: grunts lasting ~47 ms with a mean period of 155 ms and a dominant frequency of ~700 Hz. Auditory capacity was determined to range from 100 to 600 Hz, with greatest sensitivity at 300 Hz (105.0±11.8 dB re. 1 μPa). This suggests that hearing is not tuned exclusively to detect the sounds of conspecifics. High-speed X-ray videos revealed how pharyngeal jaws move during sound production. Traces of erosion on teeth in the fourth ceratobranchial arch suggest that they are also involved in sound production. The similarity of motor patterns of the upper and lower pharyngeal jaws between food processing and sound production indicates that calling is an exaptation of the food-processing mechanism.

Keywords: Communication; Exaptation; Grunt; Haemulidae; Pharyngeal jaws; Sonic mechanism.

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