Research

 

All about acoustic communication

Our group uses mostly fish models such as sand gobies (Pomatoschistus spp.), Lusitanian toadfish (Halobatrachus didactylus), African cichlids (Oreochromis mossambicus, Metriaclima spp.) and meagre (Argyrosomus regius) to address exciting questions related to acoustic communication using behavioural, physiological and ecological approaches. Recently we became interested in the impact of anthropogenic noise on marine soundscapes and on fish behaviour, physiology and fitness in general. Our work combines both lab and field experiments and benefits from both national and international collaboration.

Behaviour

Current investigation deals with the role of acoustic communication in mediating social interactions, including fish male-male assessment, female mate choice and reproductive success. We are further interested in communication in choruses, communication active space, multimodal communication and sensory integration, as well as the ontogeny of vocal behaviour.

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Physiology

Our research concerns hormonal modulation of acoustic behaviour, central and peripheral mechanisms of sound production / hearing, ontogeny of hearing, temporal resolution in the auditory pathway, effects of background sounds in hearing, including conspecific signals and anthropogenic noise.

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Underwater Soundscape Ecology

Recent and future work will focus on the impact of anthropogenic noise on aquatic life including the perception of conspecific signals, social interactions, reproduction success and development in fish. We will also use passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) to monitor the marine environment.

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Main Methodologies

Methodologies include recording and analysis of sounds produced by fish, playback experiments to study the function of acoustic signals, the use of electrophysiological techniques to estimate auditory capabilities, and the recording of electromyograms of sonic muscles.
Our lab has developed several prototypes such as the Fish Talk (a device capable of reproducing low frequency and fast transient fish sounds accurately) that has allowed us to carry out playback experiments with fish, and a low-cost hydrophone, allowing monitoring several individual toadfish simultaneously in the field.

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