Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 196, Issue 6, pp 439–451 | Cite as

Sounds of shallow water fishes pitch within the quiet window of the habitat ambient noise

  • Marco Lugli
Original Paper


The habitat ambient noise may exert an important selective pressure on frequencies used in acoustic communication by animals. A previous study demonstrated the presence of a match between the low-frequency quiet region of the stream ambient noise (termed ‘quiet window’) and the main frequencies used for sound production and hearing by two stream gobies (Padogobius bonelli, Gobius nigricans). The present study examines the spectral features of ambient noise in very shallow freshwater, brackish and marine habitats and correlates them to the range of dominant frequencies of sounds used by nine species of Mediterranean gobies reproducing in these environments. Ambient noise spectra of these habitats featured a low-frequency quiet window centered at 100 Hz (stream, sandy/rocky sea shore), or at 200 Hz (spring, brackish lagoon). The analysis of the ambient noise/sound spectrum relationships showed the sound frequencies matched the frequency band of the quiet window in the ambient noise typical of their own habitat. Analogous ambient noise/sound frequency relationships were observed in other shallow-water teleosts living in similar underwater environments. Conclusions may be relevant to the understanding of evolution of fish acoustic communication and hearing.


Ambient noise Acoustic windows Fish sounds Low-frequency communication Gobies 



I would like to thank Romano Romani for help in data collection and Stefano Malavasi for providing sound recordings from lagoon and marine gobies. The manuscript was improved by comments from Antonio Bodini, Michael Fine, Tony Hawkins and two anonymous referees. This study was supported by grants from the University of Parma (FIL 2006).

This study conforms to the National Ethical Guidelines (Italian Ministry of Health; D.L.vo 116, January 27, 1992).

Supplementary material

359_2010_528_MOESM1_ESM.doc (146 kb)
Supplementary material (DOC 146 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Evolutionary and Functional Biology, Viale Usberti (Campus)University of ParmaParmaItaly

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