Research Highlights: Sound communication among fishes is more common that we thought

By: MathKnight

Sound communication among fishes is more common that we thought

  • Fishes produce sound and has been recognized for many years; however, this behavior is usually regarded as comparatively rare.
  • Researchers map the most comprehensive dataset of sound produced by fishes.
  • The sound production dataset was constructed onto a family-level phylogeny of ray-finned fishes.
  • Ray-finned fishes or Actinopterygii were named because their fins are webs of skin supported by bony or horny spines.[1]
  • This clade of fishes contains more than 34,000 living species.
  • Eighty two percent of the analysis of sound production were based on illustrations of acoustic recordings and morphological specialization.
  • Eighteen percent were based along with qualitative descriptions.
  • Data reveal that fishes are more likely to communicate using sound than previously thought.
  • Sixty families are able to produce sound using muscles coupled to swim bladder vibration.
  • Swim bladder is an internal gas-filled organ which allows many fishes to control their buoyancy.
  • Thirty nine families are able to produce sound using movement of skeletal parts such stridulation.
  • Stridulation is the act of rubbing together certain body parts to produce sound such as in crickets or grasshoppers.[2]
  • Eighteen of these families which include 13 catfishes exhibit both the sound-producing mechanisms.
  • Additionally, researchers discovered that about 67 percent of the families with sound-producing species are ray-finned fishes including a clade originating about 155 million years ago, and that sound production has evolved about 33 times within the ray-finned fish clade.
  • Researchers proposed that these patterns of shared ancestry are robust based on sensitivity analyses.
  • Sensitivity analysis refers to the study of how variables of interest is affected by changes in external conditions.[3]
  • Overall, these findings highlight a novel perspective on the origin, background, and convergent evolution of sound production among ray-finned fishes.
  • The study strongly support the hypothesis that sound production among ray-finned fishes is ancient and that sound communication among fishes is more common than previously thought.


Aaron N. Rice, Stacy C. Farina, Andrea J. Makowski, Ingrid M. Kaatz, Phillip S. Lobel, William E. Bemis, Andrew H. Bass “Evolutionary Patterns in Sound Production across Fishes,” Ichthyology & Herpetology, 110(1), 1-12, (20 January 2022).




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