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Vasconcelos, R. O., Alderks, P. W., & Sisneros, J. A. (2016). Development of Structure and Sensitivity of the Fish Inner Ear. In J. A. Sisneros (Ed.), Fish Hearing and Bioacoustics: An Anthology in Honor of Arthur N. Popper and Richard R. Fay (pp. 291–318). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-21059-9_14
Fish represent the largest group of vertebrates and display the greatest diversity of auditory structures. However, studies addressing how the form and function of the auditory system change during development to enhance perception of the acoustic environment are rather sparse in this taxon compared to other vertebrate groups. An ontogenetic perspective of the auditory system in fishes provides a readily testable framework for understanding structure–function relationships. Additionally, studying ancestral models such as fish can convey valuable comparable information across vertebrates, as early developmental events are often evolutionary conserved. This chapter reviews the literature on the morphological development of the fish auditory system, with particular focus on the inner ear structures that evolve from an otic placode during early embryonic development and then continue to undergo differentiation and maturation in the postembryonic phase. Moreover, the chapter provides a systematic overview of how auditory sensitivity develops during ontogeny. Although most studies indicate a developmental improvement in auditory sensitivity, there is considerably species-specific variation. Lastly, the paucity of information and literature concerning the development of auditory capabilities for social communication in fishes is also discussed. Further investigation on the development of structure and function of the fish auditory system is recommended in order to obtain a deeper understanding of how ontogenetic morphological changes in the auditory pathway relate to modifications in acoustic reception, auditory processing, and the capacity to communicate acoustically.