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Jump in communication skills led to species explosion in electric fishes
Date:4/28/2011

Bruce Carlson stands next to a fish tank in his lab, holding a putty colored Radio Shack amplifier connected to two wires whose insulation has been stripped. At the bottom of the tank a nondescript little fish lurks in a sawed-off section of PVC pipe.

Carlson sticks the two bare wires into the tank. Suddenly we hear a rapid-fire pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. The pops, which are surprisingly loud, sound rather like the static on an old-fashioned tube radio tuned between stations.

"When there are many fish in a tank," Carlson says, "it sounds like a frying pan".

Carlson, PhD, assistant professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, is studying the African family of weakly electric fishes called the Mormyridae, or mormyrids.

Each fish in this family has an electric signal distinctive to its species, but also, to it
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Contact: Diana Lutz
dlutz@wustl.edu
314-935-5272
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert  

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