University Of Tasmania

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Auditory sensitivity in settlement-stage larvae of coral reef fishes

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 02:58 authored by Wright, KJ, Higgs, DM, Cato, DH, Jeffrey LeisJeffrey Leis
The larval phase of most species of coral reef fishes is spent away from the reef in the pelagic environment. At the time of settlement, these larvae need to locate a reef, and recent research indicates that sound emanating from reefs may act as a cue to guide them. Here, the auditory abilities of settlement-stage larvae of four species of coral reef fishes (families Pomacentridae, Lutjanidae and Serranidae) and similar-sized individuals of two pelagic species (Carangidae) were tested using an electrophysiological technique, auditory brainstem response (ABR). Five of the six species heard frequencies in the 100–2,000 Hz range, whilst one carangid species did not detect frequencies higher than 800 Hz. The audiograms of the six species were of similar shape, with best hearing at lower frequencies between 100 and 300 Hz. Strong within-species differences were found in hearing sensitivity both among the coral reef species and among the pelagic species. Larvae of the coral reef species had significantly more sensitive hearing than the larvae of the pelagic species. The results suggest that settlement-stage larval reef fishes may be able to detect reef sounds at distances of a few 100 m. If true hearing thresholds are lower than ABR estimates, as indicated in some comparisons of ABR and behavioural methods, the detection distances would be much larger.


Publication title

Coral Reefs








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies



Place of publication

175 Fifth Ave, New York, USA, Ny, 10010

Rights statement

Copyright 2009 Springer-Verlag

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Marine biodiversity