The Effects of Anthropogenic Traffic Noise on Auditory and Endocrine Function in the Blacktail Shiner, Cyprinella venusa
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences
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Acoustic signals are a vital component of important behaviors such as courtship, foraging, parental care, and aggression. Acoustic communication is a modality utilized by a plethora of animals, including fishes. Recent work demonstrates that many freshwater fishes are soniferous and produce context specific vocalizations. Despite the high volume of studies documenting the behavioral significance of sound production in fishes, few papers examine the physiological outcome of acoustic communication networks. This dissertation will be the first to investigate the acoustic modulation of gonadal hormones in both male and female freshwater stream cyprinids belonging to the genus Cyprinella. Waterborne levels of estradiol and Prostaglandin F2-alpha will be measured in female Blacktail Shiners (Cyprinella venusta) in response to courtship signals. Waterborne levels of 11-ketotestosterone will be measured in male C. venusta in response to agonistic signals. The subsequent chapters of this dissertation will examine an often-ignored pollutant on freshwater stream fishes: anthropogenic traffic noise. Current studies show that noise from bridge crossings propagates significantly into freshwater streams. The second chapter of this dissertation will be the first to examine C. venusta auditory sensitivity and stress responsiveness when exposed to ecologically relevant levels of bridge traffic. The final chapter will be an amalgamation of the previous two chapters. Waterborne gonadal hormones will be measured in male and female C. venusta when exposed to acoustic signals masked with traffic noise. Collectively, these studies will provide insight into the physiology of acoustic signaling and how it is disrupted by anthropogenic noise pollution in stream fishes.