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J Exp Biol. 2000 May;203(Pt 9):1503-12.

Effects of fish size and temperature on weakfish disturbance calls: implications for the mechanism of sound generation.

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  • 1Washington College, Department of Biology, Chestertown, MD 21620, USA.


To categorize variation in disturbance calls of the weakfish Cynoscion regalis and to understand their generation, we recorded sounds produced by different-sized fish, and by similar-sized fish at different temperatures, as well as muscle electromyograms. Single, simultaneous twitches of the bilateral sonic muscles produce a single sound pulse consisting of a two- to three-cycle acoustic waveform. Typical disturbance calls at 18 degrees C consist of trains of 2-15 pulses with a sound pressure level (SPL) of 74 dB re 20 microPa at 10 cm, a peak frequency of 540 Hz, a repetition rate of 20 Hz and a pulse duration of 3.5 ms. The pulse duration suggests an incredibly short twitch time. Sound pressure level (SPL) and pulse duration increase and dominant frequency decreases in larger fish, whereas SPL, repetition rate and dominant frequency increase and pulse duration decreases with increasing temperature. The dominant frequency is inversely related to pulse duration and appears to be determined by the duration of muscle contraction. We suggest that the lower dominant frequency of larger fish is caused by a longer pulse (=longer muscle twitch) and not by the lower resonant frequency of a larger swimbladder.

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