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Keywords:

  • acoustic communication;
  • aggressive sounds;
  • fish;
  • individual signature

Sounds produced by male cichlids Metriaclima zebra during aggressive interactions were recorded to conduct a detailed analysis and to search for potential individual acoustic signatures. Fish from two different size groups (small and large individuals) were analysed. The two groups were significantly different for all acoustic variables considered; six of seven features demonstrated a significant interindividual variability and most of them were correlated with the size of the emitter. A cross-validated and permuted discriminant function analysis (pDFA) separated the two groups and correctly classified around 50% of the sounds to the correct individuals. Acoustic features that best distinguished among males were the instantaneous frequency of sounds and the modulation of pulse amplitude. These results suggest that acoustic signals could bear information about individual identity. The long-term stability of this signature is likely to be weak since the signature of a growing individual may change over time.