Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Document Type



Mudskippers are intertidal fishes that can survive both in and out of the water. They are territorial and exhibit behaviors to attract mates and defend against competitors. Recently, it has been shown that vibrations are produced and transmitted through the mud during such displays in one species, Periophthalmodon septemradiatus. To see if similar vibrations are produced in other species of mudskippers, I recorded the behavioral interactions of pairs of the mudskipper Periophthalmus barbarus via digital video and acoustic signals via accelerometer. Comparative analysis of fish mass, sex, contest length, and contest outcome coupled with acoustic characteristics within dyadic pairings focused on the bioacoustic patterns and behavioral context of sound production. For example, resident and larger fish almost always won contests between pairs. Audio recordings of the contests revealed a variety of charateristics in sound quality and quantity of the call characteristics. Three different types of acoustic signals were recorded- tones and grunts (with mean peak frequencies of approximately 72 Hz, and mean durations of approximately 0.3 s), and pulse trains (with a mean peak frequency of approximately 69 Hz, and a mean duration of approximately 3 s). These sounds were generally produced immediately before and after aggressive behaviors. Grunts were the most common sound type detected. Contest winners were the only ones to produce pulse trains, and these generally occurred after a contest was won (18 out of 25 pulse trains). Sound signals appear to augment visual signaling in mudskippers. Future research is needed to understand the mechanisms of producing and receiving these acoustic signals.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Michael E. Smith, Ph.D.


Behavior and Ethology | Biological and Chemical Physics | Biology | Other Animal Sciences

Available for download on Saturday, May 11, 2024