Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

David A. Mann, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John C. Ogden, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joseph J. Torres, Ph.D.


damselfish, auditory brainstem response (ABR), hearing sensitivity, larval settlement, coral reef


There is much evidence supporting the idea that pelagic larvae of coral reef fishes are active participants in their dispersal and return to a reef, however, the mechanisms used to navigate are still uncertain. It has been proposed that sensory cues, such as hearing, play a role. Sound is a potentially important cue for organisms in marine environments, especially in noisy environments like coral reefs. Sensory organs, including otolithic organs, of most coral reef fish form within the first few days of life. The auditory brainstem response (ABR) technique was used to measure hearing on a wide size range of sergeant majors (Abudefduf saxatilis). Complete audiograms were measured for 32 fish ranging in size from 11-121 mm. Significant effects of standard length on hearing thresholds at 100 and 200 Hz were detected. At these lower frequencies, thresholds increased with an increase in size. All fish were most sensitive to the lower frequencies (100-400 Hz). The frequency range that fish could detect sounds was dependent upon the size of the fish; the larger fish (>50mm) were more likely to respond to higher frequencies (1000-1600 Hz). A. saxatilis have poor hearing sensitivity in comparison to audiograms of other hearing generalists including other species of Pomacentrids. Due to the high hearing thresholds found in this study in comparison to recorded ambient reef noise, it is unlikely that sound plays a significant role in the navigation of the pelagic larvae of sergeant majors to the return of the reef from large distances.