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Projects

 

FishNoise: Impact of anthropogenic noise on fish fitness.

2018-2021

Marine traffic is the most common and chronic source of ocean noise pollution. Recent studies point to detrimental effects on fish but the assessment of impacts on individual fitness and resulting changes at the population level are needed to consider mitigation and management measures. This proposal will evaluate the effect of boat noise on reproductive success, early-life development and survival in two vocal fishes, the meagre (Argyrossomus regius) and the Lusitanian toadfish (Halobatrachus didactylus). Field experiments using a multimethod approach aim to yield ecological relevant results necessary to provide guidelines to regulators.

PI: M. Clara P. Amorim (MARE-ISPA)
Co-PI: Paulo J. Fonseca (Ce3C-FCUL)

Institutions: MARE-ISPA; FCUL-Ce3C, FCiências.ID; Universidade Évora; Instituto Politécnico de Leiria.

jUMP: Joint Action- A Stepping-stone for underwater noise monitoring in Portuguese waters

2020-2021

The project aims to promote the debate on underwater noise by developing a number of activities, such as punctual collection of acoustic data, calibration of acoustic models and debate activities with different stakeholders.
Coordinator: WavEC Offshore Renewables - Centro de Energia Offshore

MIGRACORV: Integrated approach to study the movement dynamics of the meagre Argyrosomus regius

2018-2020

This project delineates an integrated study of meagre Argyrosomus regius ecology in Portugal, with emphasis on the movements to and from estuarine areas considered important spawning and nursery grounds for the species across its distribution range. The meagre forms ephemeral spawning aggregations that result in dedicated fishing effort and high risks of overexploitation. These risks together with the paucity of current data and difficulties in applying analytical stock assessment models underscore an urgency to search for innovative alternatives that can inform management and safeguard the reproductive resilience. This project uses an interdisciplinary approach of five techniques including natural markers, artificial tags and bioacoustics. The integrated analysis of results will provide timely answers for the science of fish migration and useful advice for the sustainability of fisheries.
PI: Bernardo Quintella
Institutions: Universidade de Évora, FCUL, cE3c, FCiências.ID, NOVAID.FCT, Mare-ISPA

SONICINVADERS: Sound Invasion - Detecting Invasive Fish in Freshwaters Ecosystems with Passive Acoustics

2018-2020

Non-native species are one of the leading causes of global change, causing enormous and irreversible damages to ecosystems. Yet, the rate of arrival of new biota continues to accelerate, being particularly detrimental in freshwater ecosystems. Fishes are the most introduced vertebrate group across the globe, being mainly introduced in freshwater ecosystems. However, invasions in aquatic environments generally occur ?far from our sight?, being difficult to detect species in early stages of invasion. This hampers an efficient management of invasive species. Interestingly, more than 800 fish species are known to produce sounds, some of which have been introduced in freshwater ecosystems. In this project, we aim to evaluate the use of passive acoustics to detect invasive fish and therefore its potential use as tool to early invasion stages, focusing on two non-native fishes that recently arrived to the Tagus River and still have a restricted distribution.
PI: Filipe Ribeiro
Co-PI: Mª Clara P. Amorim
Institutions: FCUL-FCiências.ID, Universidade Évora, Fluviário de Mora, CE3C, Mare-ISPA

SoundWell: Development of an acoustic status indicator for soundscape monitoring in aquaculture- active and passive sound making in Atlantic salmon

2018-2022

Sound making (both active, i.e. for communication and involuntary, i.e. made as a biproduct of other behaviours such as gulping air) has been widely documented in fish and is becoming increasingly utilised in fisheries science. Monitoring of fish sound making represents an untapped resource for monitoring fish's status, as regards hunger or stress, for example, in both captive and wild fishes. One particular field with large potential use is aquaculture. Non-invasive monitoring of a fish's status, direct from the fish itself, has large scope for both improving welfare and effectivity of feeding. The proposed project will provide the basis necessary for future development of a non-intrusive acoustic status indicator for farmed Atlantic salmon that can be used to improve fish welfare and operational feeding routines.

PI: Carolyn Rosten - Norwegian Institute for Nature Research

SpawnSeis: Effects of seismic sound on spawning behaviour and reproductive success of cod

2018-2022

Impact may vary between species and live stages. This project target cod (Gadus morhua), a widely distributed and important species throughout the Atlantic ocean, with hearing range and sound production overlapping with seismic airguns, as well as spawning sites located in the central north sea where the majority of the seismic activity are conducted, thus causing a major management challenge. Important spawning sites in Lofoten also makes it highly relevant in terms of assessing potential oil exploitation. Successful reproduction are essential for stock recruitment, and sound production and hearing are essential during cod spawning, as successful mating relies on vacillation to time release of spawning products. Spawning may hence be impacted in terms of a) hampered vocalization/masking or b) avoidance of spawning site due to exposure. This project will explore both vocal behavior and movement in time and space, as well as investigate the quality of spawning products in exposed and control groups. Exposure will be done with a downscaled air gun. We will work in close collaboration with a large international consortium targeting to asess the population level effects of seismic exposure on cod. This will contribute to exchange ideas, experience and results. Project results are directly applicable into management of fish stocks during seismic surveys, and results obtained will be used to define mitigation to minimizing impact of seismic surveys on fish, but avoiding unnecessary mitigation restrictions, aiming at a better coexistence between the fishery- and oil industry.

PI: Nils Olav Handegard / Lise Doksæter Sivle
- Norwegian Institute of Marine Research

Role of acoustic signals in mate choice and male-male assessment in a strongly-vocal fish, Halobatrachus didactylus

2012-2015

Numerous teleost fish species produce sounds during agonistic and reproductive behaviour but experimental evidence demonstrating the role of acoustic signals in social communication is very scarce. Fish have simple acoustic repertoires and have vocal and auditory neural circuitry organized similarly to those of other vertebrates and are thus ideal to study the role of social context-dependent vocal behaviour in vertebrates. With this project will use the highly vocal batrachoidids fish as a model (the Lusitanian toadfish, Halobatrachus didactylus), and aims to (1) ascertain the relation between acoustic signalling and reproductive success with a combination of muting experiments and parentage fingerprinting analysis; (2) test if vocal activity signals parental ability by measuring offspring survival and testing the ability to the defend their nest from intruders; (3) test the role of sound production and its modulation by the major teleost androgen (11 keto-testosterone, 11KT) in male-male assessment during territorial defence with muting experiments. We expect to show that vocal activity predicts male reproductive success and signals parental ability and is therefore used by females in their choices of mates. We also expect that muted males will be less efficient in defending their nests than sham-operated males and that 11KT will have a major role in modulating behaviour and acoustic traits.

FCT Project PTDC/MAR/118767/2010 (2012-2014)

PI: M. Clara P. Amorim

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Sound production in sand gobies of the genus Pomatoschistus: inter- and intraspecific communication

2008-2012

Fish sounds are generally emitted during territorial defence and reproductive activities but experimental evidence demonstrating the use of sound in social communication is lacking in the literature. For example, the role of mating acoustic signals in species isolation remains unclear. Likewise, little is known on the function of sounds in intra- and inter-sexual selection. Playback experiments can be used as a tool for hypothesis testing in animal acoustic communication. However, commercial speakers have been found inappropriate to accurately playback most fish sounds, especially low frequency pulsed signals, which are the most common among teleosts. Gobies of the genus Pomatoschistus (Gobiidae) seem excellent models to study inter- and intraspecific acoustic communication in fishes. They are easily kept and bred under aquarium conditions. Males are territorial and readily occupy and defend artificial nests in the laboratory. Many species of Pomatoschistus spp. live in simpatry in the Portuguese coast, share a common habitat and reproductive season, and a few are already known to make sounds in agonistic and mating contexts. A preliminary study carried out by our team has shown that Pomatoschistus pictus emit three different sound types (one agonistic and two courtship sound types). Sounds emitted during agonistic interactions differ from the courtship signals and one courtship sound type has not previously described for Pomatoschistus spp. This preliminary study suggests that acoustic signals may have a relevant role in inter- and intraspecific social interactions in this group, such as in species isolation, mate choice and territorial defence. Gobies are also one of the few fish groups where playback experiments have been carried out successfully.
This project will include the manufacture of underwater sound emitters suitable to test the role of fish acoustic signals and will study the role of mating signals produced by the male in species recognition and therefore species isolation. In addition, geographical variation of fish sounds (dialects) will be investigated and related to genetic differentiation of the studied populations. Several experiments are planned to test if females show preference for different conspecific male acoustics signals, including sounds that differ in sound emission rate and particular acoustic features. The function of agonistic sounds in territorial defence will also be studied with two-choice tests where males may choose between two unoccupied nests, broadcasting different sound stimuli (e.g. agonistic conspecific sounds vs white noise). This is a pioneer study that will address unstudied or poorly known areas in fish bioacoustics.Fish sounds are generally emitted during territorial defence and reproductive activities but experimental evidence demonstrating the use of sound in social communication is lacking in the literature. For example, the role of mating acoustic signals in species isolation remains unclear. Likewise, little is known on the function of sounds in intra- and inter-sexual selection. Playback experiments can be used as a tool for hypothesis testing in animal acoustic communication. However, commercial speakers have been found inappropriate to accurately playback most fish sounds, especially low frequency pulsed signals, which are the most common among teleosts. Gobies of the genus Pomatoschistus (Gobiidae) seem excellent models to study inter- and intraspecific acoustic communication in fishes. They are easily kept and bred under aquarium conditions. Males are territorial and readily occupy and defend artificial nests in the laboratory. Many species of Pomatoschistus spp. live in simpatry in the Portuguese coast, share a common habitat and reproductive season, and a few are already known to make sounds in agonistic and mating contexts. A preliminary study carried out by our team has shown that Pomatoschistus pictus emit three different sound types (one agonistic and two courtship sound types). Sounds emitted during agonistic interactions differ from the courtship signals and one courtship sound type has not previously described for Pomatoschistus spp. This preliminary study suggests that acoustic signals may have a relevant role in inter- and intraspecific social interactions in this group, such as in species isolation, mate choice and territorial defence. Gobies are also one of the few fish groups where playback experiments have been carried out successfully.
This project will include the manufacture of underwater sound emitters suitable to test the role of fish acoustic signals and will study the role of mating signals produced by the male in species recognition and therefore species isolation. In addition, geographical variation of fish sounds (dialects) will be investigated and related to genetic differentiation of the studied populations. Several experiments are planned to test if females show preference for different conspecific male acoustics signals, including sounds that differ in sound emission rate and particular acoustic features. The function of agonistic sounds in territorial defence will also be studied with two-choice tests where males may choose between two unoccupied nests, broadcasting different sound stimuli (e.g. agonistic conspecific sounds vs white noise). This is a pioneer study that will address unstudied or poorly known areas in fish bioacoustics.
PTDC/MAR/68868/2006

PI: M. Clara P. Amorim

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Acoustic communication in the Lusitanian toadfish, Halobatrachus didactylus.

2006-2009

The Lusitanian toadfish, Halobatrachus didactylus, is a noteworthy sound producer that lives in estuarine murky waters. This species is unusual among fishes for its extremely large acoustic repertoire that consists of five distinct sound types. The most conspicuous type of sound emission is the boatwhistle that is used as an advertisement call by nesting males to attract females. Preliminary work by this team based on short duration recordings has shown that courtship boatwhistles emitted by different males present individuality in several acoustic features, which is not only unusual among fishes, but also allows male individual identification. Long-term recordings of different nesting males will investigate the maintenance of boatwhistle individuality through long periods of times (hours to days). Recorded males will subsequently be captured to check if individual characteristics of boatwhistles are correlated with male features. This project will also study the temporal patterns of boatwhistle emission by different males (chorusing behaviour). The boatwhistle patterns of emission registered in the field will be compared with the patterns obtained by simulated choruses made by a computer program that will be developed by us, to test if males call at random or if they follow specific rules. This software will generate boatwhistle emissions based on a Poisson distribution, and on natural sound durations and emission rate. Playback experiments and the measurement of the acoustic reactions of nesting males will further test the strategies of sound emissions outlined by the previous simulations. The social behaviour of this species during the breeding season will be studied in relation to the emission of different sound types, by observing the social behaviour of nesting males with underwater video cameras and simultaneous acoustic recordings. Finally, seasonal variations of nest occupation in shallow waters will be characterised allowing a better understanding of the breeding ecology of this species and usage of intertidal estuarine areas. This project is innovative in fish bioacoustics because it studies several aspects of acoustic communication, such as temporal interactions between individuals, individuality of fish sounds, the use of different sound types in relation to the social context, etc., that have been largely neglected in fish in relation to other taxa. This study will also allow a better knowledge of this species ecology in relation to the intertidal shelter occupation in estuaries.
PDCT/MAR/58071/2004
PI: M. Clara P. Amorim

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