Western Kentucky University

Research Projects

Photograph: Smith Lab Presentation, 2011


REU Project 12—Unique auditory adaptations in loricariid catfishes—Dr. M.E. Smith, Biology Department


Catfishes of the family Loricariidae have several structural features that have been hypothesized to have acoustical functionality. These features include a bi-lobed swim bladder that is encased in a bony capsule containing numerous fenestrae (holes). One potential benefit of having a bi-lobed swim bladder may be improvement in sound localization ability. Using operant conditioning, my students have trained loricariid catfish to come to a speaker emitting a conspecific sound and then tested their sound localization ability. They can localize sounds readily, but their swim bladder is necessary to do so. We continue to examine more directly how these structures assist in hearing in loricariid catfish.


Related Publications:

  1. Stewart, P.C.* and Smith, M.E. 2009. Conspecific sound localization in Oto-cinclus affinis. Proceedings of the Institute of Acoustics 31(1): 230-234;
  2. Smith, M.E., Stewart, P.C.*, Webb, A.L.*, and Rogers, B.D.* 2009. Sound production and localization in loricariid catfishes. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 125(4):2487.

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