Acoustic and postural displays in a miniature and transparent teleost fish, Danionella dracula. Academic Article uri icon


  • Acoustic behavior is widespread across vertebrates, including fishes. We report robust acoustic displays during aggressive interactions for a laboratory colony of Danionella dracula, a miniature and transparent species of teleost fish closely related to zebrafish (Danio rerio), which are hypothesized to be sonic based on the presence of a hypertrophied muscle associated with the male swim bladder. Males produce bursts of pulsatile sounds and a distinct postural display - extension of a hypertrophied lower jaw, a morphological trait not present in other Danionella species - during aggressive but not courtship interactions. Females show no evidence of sound production or jaw extension in such contexts. Novel pairs of size-matched or -mismatched males were combined in resident-intruder assays where sound production and jaw extension could be linked to individuals. In both dyad contexts, resident males produced significantly more sound pulses than intruders. During heightened sonic activity, the majority of the highest sound producers also showed increased jaw extension. Residents extended their jaw more than intruders in size-matched but not -mismatched contexts. Larger males in size-mismatched dyads produced more sounds and jaw extensions compared with their smaller counterparts, and sounds and jaw extensions increased with increasing absolute body size. These studies establish D. dracula as a sonic species that modulates putatively acoustic and postural displays during aggressive interactions based on residency and body size, providing a foundation for further investigating the role of multimodal displays in a new model clade for neurogenomic and neuroimaging studies of aggression, courtship and other social interactions.

published proceedings

  • J Exp Biol

author list (cited authors)

  • Tatarsky, R. L., Guo, Z., Campbell, S. C., Kim, H., Fang, W., Perelmuter, J. T., ... Bass, A. H.

complete list of authors

  • Tatarsky, Rose L||Guo, Zilin||Campbell, Sarah C||Kim, Helena||Fang, Wenxuan||Perelmuter, Jonathan T||Schuppe, Eric R||Conway, Kevin W||Reeve, Hudson K||Bass, Andrew H

publication date

  • January 1, 2022 11:11 AM