Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 321–331 | Cite as

Crepuscular Changes in Emission Rate and Parameters of the Boatwhistle Advertisement Call of the Gulf Toadfish, Opsanus Beta

  • Robert F. Thorson
  • Michael L. Fine


We quantified crepuscular variation in the emission rate and call properties of the boatwhistle advertisement call of Gulf toadfish, Opsanus beta, from a field recording of a natural population of nesting males in the Florida Keys. Their calls are more variable and complex than previously reported. A call typically starts with a grunt followed by one to five tonal boop notes (typically two or three) and lasts for over a second. The first boop is considerably longer than later ones, and intervals between boops are relatively constant until the final interval, which approximately doubles in duration. Positions of fish are fixed and calls are sufficiently variable that we could discern individual callers in field recordings. Calling rate increases after sunset when males tend to produce shorter calls with fewer notes. Analysis by number of notes per call indicates some individuals decrease the number of initial grunts and the duration of the first note, but most of the decrease results from fewer notes. To our knowledge this sort of call plasticity has not been demonstrated before in fishes. We suggest that call shortening lowers the chances of overlapping calls of other males and that the small amount of time actually spent producing sound (total on time) is an adaptation to prevent fatigue in sonic muscles adapted for speed but not endurance.

sound production acoustic communication mate choice sonic muscle 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondU.S.A.

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