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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps14128

Temperature mediates chorusing behaviour associated with spawning in the sciaenid Argyrosomus regius

Manuel Vieira*, M. Clara P. Amorim, Tiago A. Marques, Paulo J. Fonseca

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Climate change is leading to an increase in the frequency and intensity of daily temperature extremes in aquatic environments, posing a threat to ectothermic animals, such as fishes. Temperature shifts can impact their reproductive cycle and behaviour, including acoustic signalling associated with courtship and mating in vocal fishes. Here, we examined the effect of temperature and other environmental factors on spawning-related chorusing behaviour in the meagre. Using an automatic recognition system based on hidden Markov models coupled with third octave band sound level analysis we extracted meagre daily vocal activity over 4 yr of passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) in the Tagus estuary (Portugal). Meagre vocal activity showed a distinct diel pattern, with choruses being most prevalent at dusk. Chorus activity started earlier in years with warmer springs, while the end of the season was concurrent with the rise of water temperature. Circa 70% of daily variations were explained by changes in water temperature. Tidal cycle, lunar phase and changes in daylength did not appear to affect vocal behaviour. Choruses were detected in days with mean water temperature ranging from 15 to 25 °C, with stronger chorusing observed around 18 °C. Abrupt changes in temperature caused disruption in choruses and likely in associated spawning. This study highlights the importance of temperature to fish reproduction and demonstrates that PAM can be a useful tool for long term conservation management plans. PAM may also allow us to predict how temperature shifts due to climate change may affect fish reproduction, using vocal fishes as model species.