European seabass respond more strongly to noise exposure at night and habituate over repeated trials of sound exposure

Y.Y. Neo, J. Hubert*, L.J. Bolle, H.V. Winter, H. Slabbekoorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Aquatic animals live in an acoustic world, prone to pollution by globally increasing noise levels. Noisy human activities at sea have become widespread and continue day and night. The potential effects of this anthropogenic noise may be context-dependent and vary with the time of the day, depending on diel
cycles in animal physiology and behaviour. Most studies to date have investigated behavioural changes within a single sound exposure session while the effects of, and habituation to, repeated exposures remain largely unknown. Here, we exposed groups of European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) in an
outdoor pen to a series of eight repeated impulsive sound exposures over the course of two days at variable times of day/night. The baseline behaviour before sound exposure was different between day and night; with slower swimming and looser group cohesion observed at night. In response to sound exposures, groups increased their swimming speed, depth, and cohesion; with a greater effect during the night. Furthermore, groups also showed inter-trial habituation with respect to swimming depth. Our findings suggest that the impact of impulsive anthropogenic noise may be stronger at night than during
the day for some fishes. Moreover, our results also suggest that habituation should be taken into account for sound impact assessments and potential mitigating measures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-374
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2018


  • Anthropogenic noise
  • Dicentrarchus labrax
  • diurnal cycle
  • fish behaviour
  • Field study
  • Impulsive sound series
  • Inter-trial habituation


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