Our new paper “Electric pulse characteristics can enable species recognition in African weakly electric fish species” has been published by Scientific Reports.
This study, mainly carried out by Rebecca Nagel and Ralph Tidemann in Potsdam in In this study looks into how the statistics of electro organ discharge (EOD) behavior in Mormyrid fish might carry information that they would use to recognize conspecific versus heterospecific fish.
The whole story is an extension of our earlier study (can be found at Royal Soc Open Sci) which addresses how EOD waveform and EOD discharge behavior could be a behavioral facture contributing to the driving forces of speciation in these fish. It is known that some losely related lineages of Mormyrid weakly electric fish, although morphologically still very similar ecologically living in the same habitat still might show strong differing EOD waveforms. This has been suggested to contribute to the fast speciation seen in this lineage of weakly electric fish. In our current study we have not only analyzed the EOD waveform but also the EOD discharge behavior and found significant differences between the closely related species, Campylomormyrus compressirostris (see picture) and C. tamandua. While the EOD is generally stereotyped and species specific, the discharge rate is context dependent and generally believed to be too variable to carry species specific cues. We found that the discharge behavior differs statistically between species. We used artificial playbacks of EOD pulses and varied the discharge behavior according to the found statistical differences and found that the discharge behavior can in part explain species specific preferences.
I have to say thank you to my colleagues for consulting and including me in this study. It was great fun and I think lead to an interesting result in form of these two publications.