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Lara, R. A., & Vasconcelos, R. O. (2019). Characterization of the Natural Soundscape of Zebrafish and Comparison with the Captive Noise Conditions. Zebrafish, 16(2), 152–164. https://doi.org/10.1089/zeb.2018.1654
Zebrafish is a well-established model organism in hearing research. Although the acoustic environment is known to shape the structure and sensitivity of auditory systems, there is no information on the natural soundscape of this species. Moreover, zebrafish are typically reared in large-scale housing systems (HS), although their acoustic properties and potential effects on hearing remain unknown. We characterized the soundscape of both zebrafish natural habitats and laboratory captive conditions, and discussed possible impact on auditory sensitivity. Sound recordings were conducted in five distinct zebrafish habitats (Southwest India), from quieter stagnant environments with diverse biological/abiotic sounds to louder watercourses characterized by current and moving substrate sounds. Sound pressure level (SPL) varied between 98 and 126 dB re 1 μPa. Sound spectra presented most energy below 3000 Hz and quieter noise windows were found in the noisiest habitats matching the species best hearing range. Contrastingly, recordings from three zebrafish HS revealed higher SPL (122-143 dB) and most energy below 1000 Hz with more spectral peaks, which might cause significant auditory masking. This study establishes an important ground for future research on the adaptation of zebrafish auditory system to the natural soundscapes, and highlights the importance of controlling noise conditions in captivity.