Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

David A. Mann, Ph.D.


Fish sound production, Fish hearing, Fish spawning, Sciaenidae, Charlotte Harbor


Recordings of fish sound production were made in Charlotte Harbor, Florida using Long Term Acoustic Recording Systems (LARS) programmed to record 10 seconds of sound every 10 minutes. Results demonstrated a strong circadian pattern in fish sound production that occurred within a few hours of dusk each evening. Sound production lasted on average 8.7 hrs each evening during the peak spawning season. LARS were deployed when Hurricane Charley crossed Charlotte Harbor in August, 2004. The hurricane did not inhibit nightly chorusing events of spawning fish. Rather, sound levels produced by spawning fish on the night of and 3 days after the hurricane were higher and lasted longer than any of the 9 days recorded prior to the hurricane.

Acoustic time series data recorded at multiple sites in Charlotte Harbor during 2005 revealed changes in the spatial distribution of fish sound production in response to increased freshwater inflow and consequent decreased bottom dissolved oxygen concentrations in early June. Fish sound production decreased rapidly over several days at study sites in the northern portion of the harbor most immediately affected by changes in environmental conditions. Meanwhile, fish sound production increased at the study site furthest seaward where normoxic levels were sustained. By August levels of fresh water inflow decreased substantially, bottom dissolved oxygen levels increased and sound production resumed at sites previously affected by these conditions. Fish sound production began intermittently in February and ended in November. Peak levels were reached by mid-late April / early May and continued throughout the summer time.

Seasonal patterns of sound production match the reported spawning periods of estuarine sciaenid species recorded. Black drum sound production was measured in the canal systems of Cape Coral and Punta Gorda, Florida during the 2004-2006 spawning seasons. The circadian pattern of sound production was similar to other sciaenids documented in Charlotte Harbor. Seasonal patterns of black drum sound production occurred during October through April and peaked in February. This seasonal period of sound production also matched patterns of black drum reproductive readiness and spawning reported in the literature for the Gulf of Mexico. A hydrophone array was used in the Cape Coral canal system to localize calling black drum and measure source levels and propagation of calls. Source level estimates averaged 165 dBRMS re: 1muPa SPL (SD=1.0) (n = 1,025). Call energy was concentrated in the fundamental frequency (94 Hz) and first two harmonics (188 Hz and 282 Hz).

A square root model best described propagation of the fundamental frequency and first harmonic and a log 10 model best described the second harmonic. Based on the mean RMS source level, signal propagation, background levels, and hearing sensitivity, the communication range of black drum at the study site was estimated at between 33 and 108 meters and was limited by background levels, not auditory sensitivity. The timing and levels of sound production and egg production were compared in black drum. Eggs were collected hourly from 1800 - 0400 by surface plankton tows on two consecutive evenings while black drum sound production was continuously recorded. This sampling effort was conducted five separate times from January through April, 2006. Evidence of the time of spawning was indicated by the collection of blastodiscs (fertilized single cell eggs) or back calculated early cleavage stage eggs.

Neither the timing nor the quantity of sound production was positively correlated with egg production on a nightly basis and the greatest densities of eggs were collected on evenings which had the lowest levels of sound production. This may have been due to differences in the fecundity of individual females spawning on the evenings when sampling was conducted.