Kramer, Bernd and Kuhn, Birgit
Species recognition by the sequence of discharge intervals in weakly electric fishes of the genus Campylomormyrus (Mormyridae, Teleostei).
Animal Bahaviour 48 (2), pp. 435-445.
In two Campylomormyrus species, tamandua and rhynchophorus from Central Africa, the electric organ discharge (EOD) activity was studied during the nocturnal activity phase in the laboratory. Both species have a pulse-type EOD of less than 200 μs duration and similar waveform; the sequence of inter-discharge intervals, however, differed characteristically: C. tamandua displayed a 'micro-pattern' encompassing nearly the whole range of intervals in a sequence of only three intervals (long-intermediate-short), while in C. rhynchophorus adjacent intervals tended to be more similar in duration. Four C. rhynchophorus and five C. tamandua were tested for their preference of conspecific pulse sequences rather than those of the other species, respectively, in playback experiments. These were performed in a T-maze paradigm such that two pulse patterns, one from each species, were simultaneously presented via two electric fish dipole models. Two pulse sequences recorded from different individuals were used to represent each species; the natural EOD waveform was replaced by a square-wave pulse of approximately natural duration. The pattern pairings and the sequence of stimulus patterns followed a randomized blocks design. Each of the four C. rhynchophorus had significantly higher preference scores for the conspecific pulse patterns than for those of C. tamandua, while in C. tamandua no such discrimination was observed. It is suggested that the juvenile C. tamandua used would probably have joined mixed-species schools as reported to exist in the wild, while this appears unlikely in the more mature C. rhynchophorus. One of the functions of the inter-discharge interval code of communication in mormyrids is species recognition although this may be seen only in sufficiently mature fish.