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When fish talk, scientists listen
Date:7/17/2008

the only species whose hums, growls, and grunts have meaning. "There's reason to suggest that the use of sound in social communication is widespread among fishes," Bass says.

This research is an example of the growing field of evolutionary neurobiology, which aims to understand the evolution of behavior through neurobiology. According to Bass, fish are an incredibly successful group, making up nearly half of the living species of vertebrates, and vocal communication may be partly responsible. "The kind of work we're doing contributes to answering questions as to why these animals are so successful," Bass says. "We're only touching the tip of the iceberg here."

The majority of this research was completed at the MBL over the past five years, although the question of how fish communicate through sound first came to Bass as a graduate student studying the neurobiology of fish at the University of Michigan. In the summer of 1986, Bass, then a summer instructor at the MBL, met Robert Baker, who was also researching the neurobiology of fish calling. For years they discussed fish social behavior with the roots of the hypothesis tested in the Science paper first published in 1997 and the research to test that hypothesis beginning in 2003. "The whole project began at the MBL," Bass says. "It's where collaborations happen."


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Contact: Diana Kenney
dkenney@mbl.edu
508-289-7139
Marine Biological Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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