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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Spatial variation in the sound field is predicted to influence the reception and use of reef-based acoustic cues by larval fishes undergoing settlement.

Graphic: Natalie Renier © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Salas AK, Ballard MS, Mooney TA, Wilson PS

Effects of frequency-dependent spatial variation in soundscape settlement cues for reef fish larvae

The use of acoustic cues during settlement is a 3-part system dependent on properties of the reef soundscape, acoustic propagation, and the larval fish receivers. Salas and colleagues used modeling and field measurements to show that the propagation of reef-based sounds created frequency-dependent 3D variation in the sound field and a non-monotonic decline in amplitude with distance from the reef. These results highlight that the acoustic cuescapes larval fishes encounter may be more complex that currently understood, with larva encountering regions of high and low cue amplitude depending on frequencies in the reef soundscape and their own depth and distance from settlement habitat. Understanding the complexities of the cue-receiver system is necessary to retain this important ecological function of the soundscape under anthropogenic change.


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