Because of pelagic-larval dispersal, coral-reef fishes are distributed widely with minimal genetic differentiation between populations. Amphiprion akallopisos, a clownfish that uses sound production to defend its anemone territory, has a wide but disjunct distribution in the Indian Ocean. We compared sounds produced by these fishes from populations in Madagascar and Indonesia, a distance of 6500 km. Differentiation of agonistic calls into distinct types indicates a complexity not previously recorded in fishes' acoustic communication. Moreover, various acoustic parameters, including peak frequency, pulse duration, number of peaks per pulse, differed between the two populations. The geographic comparison is the first to demonstrate ‘dialects’ in a marine fish species, and these differences in sound parameters suggest genetic divergence between these two populations. These results highlight the possible approach for investigating the role of sounds in fish behaviour in reproductive divergence and speciation.



    • Received January 12, 2005.
    • Accepted May 5, 2005.
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