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Auditory sensitivity in settlement-stage larvae of coral reef fishes


Wright, KJ and Higgs, DM and Cato, DH and Leis, JM, Auditory sensitivity in settlement-stage larvae of coral reef fishes, Coral Reefs, 29, (1) pp. 235-243. ISSN 0722-4028 (2010) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2009 Springer-Verlag

DOI: doi:10.1007/s00338-009-0572-y


The larval phase of most species of coral reef fishes is spent away from the reef in the pelagic environment. At the time of settlement, these larvae need to locate a reef, and recent research indicates that sound emanating from reefs may act as a cue to guide them. Here, the auditory abilities of settlement-stage larvae of four species of coral reef fishes (families Pomacentridae, Lutjanidae and Serranidae) and similar-sized individuals of two pelagic species (Carangidae) were tested using an electrophysiological technique, auditory brainstem response (ABR). Five of the six species heard frequencies in the 1002,000 Hz range, whilst one carangid species did not detect frequencies higher than 800 Hz. The audiograms of the six species were of similar shape, with best hearing at lower frequencies between 100 and 300 Hz. Strong within-species differences were found in hearing sensitivity both among the coral reef species and among the pelagic species. Larvae of the coral reef species had significantly more sensitive hearing than the larvae of the pelagic species. The results suggest that settlement-stage larval reef fishes may be able to detect reef sounds at distances of a few 100 m. If true hearing thresholds are lower than ABR estimates, as indicated in some comparisons of ABR and behavioural methods, the detection distances would be much larger.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:auditory brainstem response, coral reef fish, larvae, settlement-stage
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Leis, JM (Dr Jeff Leis)
ID Code:94178
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:40
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2014-09-02
Last Modified:2014-09-08

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