Detection of ultrasonic tones and simulated dolphin echolocation clicks by a teleost fish, the American shad (Alosa sapidissima)

J Acoust Soc Am. 1998 Jul;104(1):562-8. doi: 10.1121/1.423255.


The authors previously reported that American shad (Alosa sapidissima) can detect sounds from 100 Hz to 180 kHz, with two regions of best sensitivity, one from 200 to 800 Hz and the other from 25 to 150 kHz [Mann et al., Nature 389, 341 (1997)]. These results demonstrated ultrasonic hearing by shad, but thresholds at lower frequencies were potentially masked by background noise in the experimental room. In this study, the thresholds of the American shad in a quieter and smaller tank, as well as thresholds for detecting stimulated echolocation sounds of bottlenosed dolphins was determined. Shad had lower thresholds for detection (from 0.2 to 0.8 kHz) in the quieter and smaller tank compared with the previous experiment, with low-frequency background noise but similar thresholds at ultrasonic frequencies. Shad were also able to detect echolocation clicks with a threshold of 171 dB re: 1 microPa peak to peak. If spherical spreading and an absorption coefficient of 0.02 dB/m of dolphin echolocation clicks are assumed, shad should be able to detect echolocating Tursiops truncatus at ranges up to 187 m. The authors propose that ultrasonic hearing evolved in shad in response to selection pressures from echolocating odontocete cetaceans.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Conditioning, Classical
  • Echolocation / physiology*
  • Fishes
  • Perceptual Masking
  • Porpoises
  • Signal Detection, Psychological / physiology*
  • Ultrasonics*