Hearing in Cavefishes
Caves and associated subterranean habitats represent some of the harshest environments on Earth, yet many organisms, including fishes, have colonized and thrive in these habitats despite the complete absence of light, and other abiotic and biotic constraints. Over 170 species of fishes are considered obligate subterranean inhabitants (stygobionts) that exhibit some degree of troglomorphy, including degeneration of eyes and reduction in pigmentation. To compensate for lack of vision, many species have evolved constructive changes to non-visual sensory modalities. In this chapter we review hearing in cavefishes, with particular emphasize on our own studies on amblyopsid cavefishes. Hearing in cavefishes has not been well studied to date, as hearing ability has only been examined in four species. Two species show no differences in hearing ability relative to their surface relatives, while the other two species (family Amblyopsidae) exhibit regression in the form of reduced hearing range and reduction in hair cell densities on sensory epithelia. In addition to reviewing our current knowledge on cavefish hearing, we offer suggestions for future avenues of research on cavefish hearing and discuss the influence of Popper and Fay on the field of cavefish bioacoustics.
KeywordsAcoustic Auditory Evolution Fish Subterranean
Apart from their enduring contributions to the field of fish sensory biology through published works, extensive reviews, and symposium organization, Drs. Popper and Fay have also had an enduring personal contribution to the careers of most of the researchers in the field of fish acoustic. DH entered the Popper lab as a postdoctoral fellow, despite knowing little about hearing and less about neurophysiology, and was immediately taken under Art’s tutelage. Art not only offered invaluable training in the discipline but also served as a true mentor to DH in all aspects of scientific citizenship and mentoring. DH also owes a tremendous debt to Fay for patiently explaining the most basic principles of neurophysiology as well as being a constantly positive source of review and encouragement in this field. DS is also grateful for the mentoring and support received by Popper throughout the years. Although she was not in the Popper lab, she benefited from “hanging around” during her graduate years.
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