Detection of ultrasonic tones and simulated dolphin echolocation clicks by a teleost fish, the American shad (Alosa sapidissima)

David A. Mann, Zhongmin Lu, Mardi C. Hastings, Arthur N. Popper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

71 Scopus citations


The authors previously reported that American shad (Alosa sapidissima) can detect sounds from 100 Hz to 180 kHz, with two regions of best sensitivity, one from 200 to 800 Hz and the other from 25 to 150 kHz [Mann et al., Nature 389, 341 (1997)]. These results demonstrated ultrasonic hearing by shad, but thresholds at lower frequencies were potentially masked by background noise in the experimental room. In this study, the thresholds of the American shad in a quieter and smaller tank, as well as thresholds for detecting simulated echolocation sounds of bottlenosed dolphins was determined. Shad had lower thresholds for detection (from 0.2 to 0.8 kHz) in the quieter and smaller tank compared with the previous experiment, with low- frequency background noise but similar thresholds at ultrasonic frequencies. Shad were also able to detect echolocation clicks with a threshold of 171 dB re: 1 μPa peak to peak. If spherical spreading and an absorption coefficient of 0.02 dB/m of dolphin echolocation clicks are assumed, shad should be able to detect echolocating Tursiops truncatus at ranges up to 187 m. The authors propose that ultrasonic hearing evolved in shad in response to selection pressures from echolocating odontocete cetaceans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)562-568
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 22 1998
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics

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