This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Sound Production And The Effect Of Noise On Communication In The Blacktail Shiner (Cyprinella venusta)




Holt, Daniel

Type of Degree



Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures


Animal communication is important in the success and survival of species. In order to find a potential mate, individuals must be able to communicate effectively with each other. This communication may involve identification of the proper species, individuals which are in the proper physiological and motivational states for reproduction, and possibly the coordination of gamete release. Communication is also necessary for many aspects of an animal’s life that relate indirectly to reproduction. The interaction and competition between males for resources and mates, for example, is often dependent upon communication. Although most people are not aware of it, the underwater world of freshwater streams is alive with sound, and many fishes in these environments communicate acoustically. The ability to communicate effectively using acoustics can be highly affected by levels of ambient noise. In a natural setting, this noise may be a selective pressure in the evolution of acoustic signals. However, in recent years, the breadth and level of anthropogenic noise has increased drastically, and little attention has been given to the effect it may have on freshwater fishes, especially those inhabiting small to moderately sized streams. Freshwater fishes in the genus Cyprinella have been shown to communicate acoustically during the reproductive season. Several species have been described in detail, but Cyprinella venusta, an extremely common species in the southeast United States, has not. This dissertation provides the first detailed description of acoustic signals and associated behaviors in C. venusta and makes the first comparison of acoustic signals and behaviors recorded in the field and laboratory in the genus Cyprinella. A description is also made of the natural soundscape, anthropogenic noise sources, hearing abilities, and propagation of signals and noise sources in the natural environment in order to determine how far acoustic signals are utilized, and how anthropogenic noises may impact the ability of C. venusta to communicate. Finally, I investigate the ability of C. venusta to adapt to elevated noise levels in the laboratory. The results of the current study advance our understanding of sound production in the genus Cyprinella, and also our knowledge of how noise may impact vocal fishes in freshwater systems.