Further insight into the sound-producing mechanism of clownfishes: what structure is involved in sound radiation?
Colleye O., Nakamura M., Frédérich B., Parmentier E.
The Journal of Experimental Biology 215: 2192-2202.
It was recently demonstrated that clownfishes produce aggressive sounds by snapping their jaw teeth. To date, only the onset of the sound has been studied, which raises the question, what structure is involved in sound radiation? Here, a combination of different approaches has been used to determine the anatomical structure(s) responsible for the size-related variations observed in sound duration and frequency. Filling the swimbladder with physiological liquid specifically modified size-related acoustic features by inducing a significant decrease in pulse duration of approximately 3ms and a significant increase in dominant frequency of approximately 105Hz. However, testing the acoustics of the swimbladder by striking it with a piezoelectric impact hammer showed that this structure is a highly damped sound source prevented from prolonged vibrations. In contrast, the resonant properties of the rib cage seems to account for the size-related variations observed in acoustic features. For an equivalent strike on the rib cage, the duration and dominant frequency of induced sounds changed with fish size: sound duration and dominant frequency were positively and negatively correlated with fish size, respectively. Such relationships between sonic features and fish size are consistent with those observed in natural sounds emitted by fish. Therefore, the swimbladder itself does not act as a resonator; its wall just seems to be driven by the oscillations of the rib cage. This set of observations suggests the need for reassessment of the acoustic role of swimbladders in various fish species.
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