Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 421–428 | Cite as

Acoustic behavior of the damselfish Dascyllus albisella: behavioral and geographic variation

  • David A. Mann
  • Phillip S. Lobel


Behavioral and geographic variation in animal communication has been well-studied in insects, frogs, birds, and mammals, but little is known about variation in fishes. We used underwater audio-video recordings of the behavior and associated sounds produced by the domino damselfish, Dascyllus albisella, at Johnston Atoll and Hawaii, which are separated by 1000 km, to study behavioral and geographic variation in communication sounds. Males produced pulsed sounds during the courtship behavior known as the signal jump, visiting by females (during pseudospawning), mating, aggression to heterospecifics and conspecifics, and nest preparation. Females made only aggressive sounds. The following features of the sounds were measured: number of pulses, pulse rate, pulse duration, inter-pulse interval, dominant frequency, and frequency envelope. The only difference between visiting and mating sounds was a small difference in pulse duration. Two types of aggressive sounds were produced, pops and chirps. Pops contained only one or two pulses and were more commonly made towards heterospecifics than conspecifics. Aggressive chirps had between 3–11 pulses and were made most often towards conspecifics. The pulse rate of aggressive chirps was faster than signal jump sounds. The only difference in signal jump sounds made by males from Johnston Atoll and Hawaii, was a small difference in pulse duration, which was likely due to differences in the depths of the recording environment and not in the sounds produced.

sound production courtship aggression spawning Johnston Atoll Hawaii 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Mann
    • 1
  • Phillip S. Lobel
    • 2
  1. 1.Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleU.S.A
  2. 2.Boston University Marine ProgramMarine Biological LaboratoryWoods HoleU.S.A

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