MEPS 207:219-224 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps207219

Ambient sound as a cue for navigation by the pelagic larvae of reef fishes

Nick Tolimieri1,2,*, Andrew Jeffs3, John C. Montgomery1

1Experimental Biology Research Group, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand
2Leigh Marine Laboratory, PO Box 349, Warkworth, New Zealand
3National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, PO Box 109695, Auckland, New Zealand

ABSTRACT: Sound is a potentially important navigational cue for organisms in aquatic environments. Most reef fishes produce pelagic larvae that must locate suitable settlement habitat for the completion of their life-cycle. We used light traps and underwater loudspeakers to determine whether reef fish larvae are attracted to sounds produced on a reef. ŒSound traps¹ caught more triplefin (a benthic reef fish) larvae than did Œsilent traps¹, demonstrating that the larvae of some reef fishes may use sound as a navigational cue in the field. Catches of pilchard larvae, a pelagic fish, did not vary between treatments. These results are the first demonstration, of which we are aware, of sound as a potential navigational cue in the aquatic environment.


KEY WORDS: Reef fish · Larvae · Sound · Orientation · Navigation · Light traps


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