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Attraction and localization of round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) to conspecific calls

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Many species of fish use auditory cues as part of their reproductive repertoire but intended receivers must be able to localize sounds to make full use of this information. Specialized couplings between the ear and swim bladder are thought to be critical for acoustic localization, yet species without specialized connections use acoustic cues in reproductive displays. In an attempt to better understand mechanisms of acoustic localization, we used the round goby (Neogobius melanostomus), a hearing generalist, to assess responses to calls in the lab and field. The call used for playback was recorded in the field from an actively displaying male round goby and consisted of a series of low frequency pulses. In the field, playback of the call resulted in a significant enhancement of approaches toward, and entries into, an experimental arena as compared to when the sound was off. There was no effect on the amount of time spent near the speaker however. In the lab, males and females responded actively when calls were played and females showed a significant attraction to the playing speaker. Responses were highly directional with little angular deviation, suggesting true localization to the sound source. While the sensory mechanisms allowing round gobies to selectively respond to conspecific vocalizations remain unknown, it is clear that they do show highly directional responses to acoustic cues in both laboratory and field settings.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, University of Windsor, 401 Sunset, Windsor ON N0R 1G0, Canada; 2: Department of Biology, Gannon University, 109 University Square, Erie, PA 16541, USA; 3: Great Lakes WATER Inst., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 600 East Greenfield Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53204, USA


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