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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Seasonal and Daily Patterns of the Mating Calls of the Oyster Toadfish, Opsanus tau

Jacey C Van Wert, Allen F Mensinger
Biological Bulletin 2019, 236 (2): 97-107
30933642
Acoustic communication is vital across many taxa for mating behavior, defense, and social interactions. Male oyster toadfish, Opsanus tau, produce courtship calls, or "boatwhistles," characterized by an initial broadband segment (30-50 ms) and a longer tone-like second part (200-650 ms) during mating season. Male calls were monitored continuously with an in situ SoundTrap hydrophone that was deployed in Eel Pond, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, during the 2015 mating season. At least 10 vocalizing males were positively identified by their unique acoustic signatures. This resident population was tracked throughout the season, with several individuals tracked for extended periods of time (72 hours). Toadfish began calling in mid-May when water temperature reached 14.6 °C with these early-season "precursor" boatwhistles that were shorter in duration and contained less distinct tonal segments compared to calls later in the season. The resident toadfish stopped calling in mid-August, when water temperature was about 25.5 °C. The pulse repetition rate of the tonal part of the call was significantly related to ambient water temperature during both short-term (hourly) and long-term (weekly) monitoring. This was the first study to monitor individuals in the same population of oyster toadfish in situ continuously throughout the mating season.

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