Song of the burbot: Under-ice acoustic signaling by a freshwater gadoid fish
Journal of Great Lakes Research
Burbot, Fish calls, Gadidae, Lota lota, Reproduction, Spawning Great Slave Lake
Burbot (Lota lota) are northern freshwater gadoid fish that spawn under ice-cover, making their reproductive behavior largely unknown to science. Some members of the cod family vocalize as part of their mating system. These calls are produced by rapidly contracting drumming muscles on their swim bladders. Burbot also possess drumming muscles, like their marine counterparts, which may enable them to vocalize. To assess the potential for burbot to make calls, pre-spawning adult burbot were collected and placed in a large under-ice enclosure in Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada, along with a recorder that monitored low frequency sound over their spawning period. The recorded acoustic data revealed that burbot called coincident with the onset of their spawning period and that the call signatures were stereotypical of swim bladder generated vocalizations made by other gadoid fishes. Burbot showed a wide repertoire of calls, from slow knocks to fast buzzing, similar to the closely related haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus). Although never-before documented, calling by fish under ice-cover is likely an important part of the mating system of under-ice spawning gadoids because light limitation would reduce the usefulness of visual cues. These under-ice communications may be affected by anthropogenic noise from increasing resource development in northern regions.
Cott, Peter A.; Hawkins, Anthony D.; Zeddies, David; Martin, Bruce; Johnston, Thomas A.; and Higgs, Dennis M., "Song of the burbot: Under-ice acoustic signaling by a freshwater gadoid fish" (2014). Journal of Great Lakes Research, 2, 40, 435-440.