Behavioral responses of silver carp (Hypopthalmichthys molitrix), bighead carp (H. nobilis), and common carp (Cyprinus carpio) to a complex, broadband sound were tested in the absence of visual cues to determine whether these species are negatively phonotaxic and the roles that sound pressure and particle motion might play mediating this response. In a dark featureless square enclosure, groups of 3 fish were tracked and the distance of each fish from speakers and their swimming trajectories relative to sound pressure and particle acceleration were analyzed before, and then while an outboard motor sound was played. All three species exhibited negative phonotaxis during the first two exposures after which they ceased responding. The median percent time fish spent near the active speaker for the first two trials decreased from 7.0% to 1.3% for silver carp, 7.9% to 1.1% for bighead carp, and 9.5% to 3% for common carp. Notably, when close to the active speaker fish swam away from the source and maintained a nearly perfect 0° orientation to the axes of particle acceleration. Fish did not enter sound fields greater than 140 dB (ref. 1 μPa). These results demonstrate that carp avoid complex sounds in darkness and while initial responses may be informed by sound pressure, sustained oriented avoidance behavior is likely mediated by particle motion. This understanding of how invasive carp use particle motion to guide avoidance could be used to design new acoustic deterrents to divert them in dark, turbid river waters.
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