Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 92, Issue 2, pp 207–215 | Cite as

How boat noise affects an ecologically crucial behaviour: the case of territoriality in Gobius cruentatus (Gobiidae)

  • Linda Sebastianutto
  • Marta Picciulin
  • Marco Costantini
  • Enrico A Ferrero
Article

Abstract

Gobius cruentatus emit sounds during agonistic interactions. In order to evaluate the effect of boat noise exposure on G. cruentatus territorial behaviour, we played a field-recorded diesel engine boat noise during aggressive encounters between an intruder and a resident fish in a laboratory-controlled tank. We tested two factors: role (resident vs. intruder) and condition (noisy vs. silent); the test animals underwent all the treatments in a round-robin design. Agonistic behavior of the residents was modified by boat noise: during the playback residents were more submissive and won less encounters than in the control (silent) condition. We suggest that sound production is an effective tool for territorial defense, since the impairment of acoustic communication due to the recreational boat noise diminished the ability of the resident to maintain its territory.

Keywords

Agonistic interaction Noise pollution Fish sounds Boat noise 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study was part of a project to monitor human-made noise in Marine Protected Areas supported by the Italian Ministry for Environment, Territory and Sea. We would like to thank Maurizio Spoto and the Miramare Natural Marine Reserve staff for technical assistance, Elena Pangaro for her support in data collection, Antonio Codarin for help in acoustic analyses, MPC Amorim for critical reading and valuable comments, and Valerie Lesk for English proofreading.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda Sebastianutto
    • 1
  • Marta Picciulin
    • 2
    • 3
  • Marco Costantini
    • 4
  • Enrico A Ferrero
    • 3
  1. 1.Cognitive Neuroscience SectorSISSA, International School for Advanced StudiesTriesteItaly
  2. 2.Etho-ecology Marine LaboratoryNatural Marine Reserve of Miramare—WWFTriesteItaly
  3. 3.Department of Life SciencesUniversity of Trieste, CSEETriesteItaly
  4. 4.WWF ItaliaRomaItaly

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