Science Serving Maryland's Coasts


Biological Responses to Acoustical Stress in Fishes

Principal Investigator: 

Arthur N. Popper

Start/End Year: 

2002 to 2003


University of Maryland, College Park



Our studies will focus on the impact of ambient sound on tilapia (Tilapia aurea), an aquaculturally important finfish species in Maryland and a good model of general teleost hearing capabilities. This will be accomplished by evaluating a suite of integrated endpoints in response to specific acoustical stress exposures. These endpoints include alterations in growth, hearing capabilities as determined using neurophysiological techniques, microanatomical pathology as assessed by electron microscopy, and changes in whole organism stress assessed by alterations in serum stress hormones and susceptibility to opportunistic pathogens. This study will be the first to systematically explore the impact of sounds on fishes, and the results should provide the first comprehensive understanding of the impact of sound on fish behavior, and ultimately health in aquaculture facilities and survival in wild fishes. We will test the following null hypothesis: Long-term exposure to increased ambient sounds will not impact hearing capabilities and general health of fish. The specific questions to be asked include the following: a) What is the impact over time of increased exposure to background noise on the ear and hearing capabilities of fishes? b) What is the impact over time of increased exposure to background noise on fish stress levels and health?