Proximate and ultimate aspects of acoustic and multimodal communication in butterflyfishes

Boyle, Kelly Sherman
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2011]
Communication in social animals is shaped by natural selection on both sender and receiver. Diurnal butterflyfishes use a combination of visual cues like bright color patterns and motor pattern driven displays, acoustic communication, and olfactory cues that may advertise territorial behavior, facilitate recognition of individuals, and provide cues for courtship. This dissertation examines proximate and multimodal communication in several butterflyfishes, with an emphasis on acoustic communication which has recently garnered attention within the Chaetodontidae. Sound production in the genus Forcipiger involves a novel mechanism with synchronous contractions of opposing head muscles at the onset of sound emission and rapid cranial rotation that lags behind sound emission. Acoustic signals in F. flavissimus provide an accurate indicator of body size, and to a lesser extent cranial rotation velocity and acceleration. The closely related Hemitaurichthys polylepis produces rapid pulse trains of similar duration and spectral content to F. flavissimus, but with a dramatically different mechanism which involves contractions of hypaxial musculature at the anterior end of the swim bladder that occur with synchronous muscle action potentials. Both H. polylepis sonic and hypaxial trunk muscle fibers have triads at the z-line, but sonic fibers have smaller cross-sectional areas, more developed sarcoplasmic reticula, longer sarcomere lengths, and wider t-tubules. Sonic motor neurons are located along a long motor column entirely within the spinal cord and are composed of large and small types. Forcipiger flavissimus and F. longirostris are site attached and territorial, with F. flavissimus engaged in harem polygyny and F. longirostris in social monogamy. Both produce similar pulse sounds to conspecifics during territoriality that vary little with respect to communicative context. Chaetodon multicinctus can discriminate between mates and non-mate intruders, but require combined visual and olfactory cues to display a differential agonistic response towards non-mates, which is consistent with the hypothesis that multimodal cues are required for mate recognition and may have important ramifications for the evolution of communication. Results from this dissertation indicate that acoustic communication may be widespread among chaetodontid fishes and involve variable mechanisms convergently similar to distantly related teleosts.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2011.
Includes bibliographical references.
Diurnal butterflyfishes
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