Hearing ability in three clownfish species
Eric Parmentier, Orphal Colleye, David Mann
The Journal of Experimental Biology 212, 2023-2026
Clownfish live in social groups in which there is a size-based dominance hierarchy. In such a context, sonic cues could play a role in social organisation because dominant frequency and pulse length of sounds are strongly correlated with fish size. Data on the hearing ability of these fish are, however, needed to show that they have the sensory ability to detect the frequencies in their sounds. The present study determines the hearing sensitivity in three different anemonefish species (Amphiprion frenatus, Amphiprion ocellaris and Amphiprion clarkii), and compares it with the frequencies in their calls. The frequency range over which the three species can detect sounds was between 75 and 1800 Hz, and they were most sensitive to frequencies below 200 Hz. During sound production, dominant frequency is clearly related (R=0.95) to the fish size, whatever the species. Dominant frequency extends from 370 to 900 Hz for specimens having a size between 55 and 130 mm. The best hearing sensitivity of small specimens were found to be lower than the dominant frequency of their own calls. However, they were found to be close to the dominant frequency of larger fish calls. The interest of juveniles lies in localising the adults and thus their location on the reef.
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