DOI: 10.3390/fishes8120581 ISSN: 2410-3888

Does Soundpeaking Affect the Behavior of Chub (Squalius cephalus) and Brown Trout (Salmo trutta)? An Experimental Approach

Johannes L. Kowal, Stefan Auer, Stefan Schmutz, Wolfram Graf, Richard Wimmer, Diego Tonolla, Paul Meulenbroek
  • Ecology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Increased turbulent flow and sediment transport during flood or hydropeaking events often induces rapid changes in underwater sound pressure levels, which is here referred to as soundpeaking. This study is the first to investigate such a change in the underwater soundscape in relation to fish behavior using an experimental approach. Trials were conducted in an experimental channel stocked with either adult chub (Squalius cephalus) or brown trout (Salmo trutta). To mimic soundpeaking, the underwater soundscape of a small alpine river was recorded during a flood event and later played back through an underwater speaker during treatment trials. Furthermore, trials were recorded with a video camera, and based on the fish position, movement variables (swimming distance, number of movement direction changes, variance of the acceleration), the aggregation of individuals, the longitudinal and the lateral position in the experimental area were compared between control (no sound played) and treatment trials. During treatment trials, brown trout changed their movement direction significantly more often, chub showed a significantly higher variation of the acceleration, and individuals from both species were significantly more aggregated. Furthermore, the soundpeaking treatment had a significant effect on the longitudinal position of brown trout in the experimental area. However, the overall results did not provide any indication for a stronger soundpeaking effect in chub despite being equipped with much more refined hearing abilities in comparison to brown trout. Based on these results and findings from other studies, soundpeaking is discussed as a behavioral trigger as well as a source of acoustic stress.

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