Calls emitted by the brown meagre Sciaena umbra (L., fam. Sciaenidae) were recorded at the Natural Marine Reserve of Miramare (Trieste, Italy) in seven nocturnal surveys (12-h continuous sampling) during the summer of 2009. Calls consist of pulses, with the main energy content below 2 kHz and mean peak frequency of c. 270 Hz. Pulses were short, with an average duration of 20 ms and a pulse period of 100 ms. Sounds lasted approximately 500 ms. Three types of sound patterns were recognized: irregular (I), regular (R) and the chorus (C). Their acoustic parameters are described showing that I, R and C differ in pulse duration, pulse peak frequency and pulse period. Occurrence of the three call types changes throughout the night: the R pattern occurred mainly at dawn and dusk, C predominated after nightfall, while I calls were produced sporadically during the whole nocturnal period. Our results indicate that S. umbra has a pronounced nocturnal rhythm in vocalizing behaviour and highlight how the diagnostic time–frequency pattern of S. umbra calls can be used to identify the species in the field. Considering that the abundance of S. umbra is currently declining, the information presented here will be relevant in developing non-invasive and low-cost monitoring acoustic systems for managing S. umbra conservation and fishery along the Mediterranean Sea.
brown meagre, sound production, acoustic characterization, spawning sounds, marine reserve, Sciaenidae