Fish Sounds

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Project Lead: Audrey Looby (University of Florida)

Project Participants: Amalis Riera, Sarah Vela, Kieran Cox, Santiago Bravo, Rodney Rountree, Francis Juanes, Laura K. Reynolds, Charles W. Martin

Participating Institutions: University of Florida, University of Victoria, Universidade de São Paulo, MERIDIAN, FishBase

Link to website:

Goals and Objectives

​Fish are one of the largest groups of sound-producing vertebrates and have the greatest diversity of sonic organs. Fish have been shown to produce active (i.e., intentional) sounds in numerous behavioral contexts, including feeding, reproduction, aggression, defense, and social interactions. Other organisms including dolphins, birds, and even invertebrate larvae may use fish sounds as a sensory cue to hunt prey, avoid predators, or find suitable habitat. The production and detection of fish sounds and their associated functions can be impeded by anthropogenic impacts such as habitat degradation, changing climatic conditions, and noise pollution. Fish sounds also have remote sensing applications through the use of passive acoustics. Fish sounds in particular can be and have already been used to detect and monitor spawning for fisheries management, to map the spread of invasive species, and to assess habitat complexity and degradation, among other applications in marine, brackish, and freshwater environments. However, because of the much greater number of fish species in comparison to marine mammals and the greater difficulty in recording fish sounds in comparison to birds, fish bioacoustics has lagged behind the large-scale syntheses and data collections possible in these other taxa, limiting the ability to study the ecological implications of, human impacts on, and passive acoustic applications of fish sound production.

 We set out to address these critical gaps in fish bioacoustics with the creation of the FishSounds website for the compilation and dissemination of fish sound production information and recordings. We have compiled three main types of data as part of the website work: basic sound production and reference information​; sound recordings; and acoustic characteristics and additional information on the fish species and their sound production. All of these data are used to create searches for the users of the website based on fish species information, by sound recordings, and by reference information.

 Phase 1 of the website will entail the creation of the base website with all data, search functions, and additional information about the data available. Phase 2 of the website will center on the implementation of a plugin to automatically generate sound visualizations of the recordings compiled as well as the creation of a form system to facilitate data input and the donation of recordings. In Phase 3, we will create interactive searches and further optimize the website. Beyond the currently outlined phases, we are interested in expanding our data offerings, conducting meta-analyses from the data available, expanding our long-term stability and viability, and connecting with other bioacoustics repositories.

 Project Outputs

FishSounds presents a compilation of acoustic recordings and published information on sound production across all extant fish species globally. Our FishSounds website contains data collected from a systematized review of published examinations of fish species for sound production. As of the end of 2021, we have records of 1,185 fish species pulled from 837 peer-reviewed articles and other grey literature sources. We are also beginning to collect representative recordings—we currently have 240 recordings available—as well as additional information on the sound production, including acoustic characteristics or behaviors associated with sound production. We hope the information and recordings compiled can be used to advance research into fish behavior, passive acoustic monitoring, and human impacts on underwater soundscapes as well as serve as a public resource for anyone interested in learning more about fish sounds.

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