• courtship sounds;
  • spawning behaviour;
  • gobies;
  • phylogeny

The male Arno goby Padogobius nigricans courts ripe females by emitting sounds at a high rate, mainly from the nest hollow. Laboratory observations revealed that each sound is an almost pure tone wave showing marked amplitude modulation and decrease of frequency throughout its length. The mean tone frequency averaged 79.4 Hz and the sound duration averaged 327 ms. Both these sound parameters were significantly affected by the temperature of the water. Acoustic behaviour during sexual interactions was compared for tank-confined males and males from a community group. The fact that acoustic activity of the male peaked when the female stayed motionless at the nest entrance suggested that the sound emitted by the male P. nigricans has a role as an advertising signal. Observation of spawning behaviour showed the emission of sounds by the male rapidly diminished and eventually ceased shortly after the beginning of oviposition. Thus, the male sound seems not to be a functional component of the spawning behaviour. Finally, data on vocal behaviour of this species were examined within a comparative framework, also taking into consideration phylogenetic relationships between Italian freshwater gobies.