Signals produced during social interactions convey crucial information about the sender's identity, quality, reproductive state and social status. Fishes can detect near-body water movements via the mechanosensory lateral line system, and this sense is used during several common fish behaviors, such as schooling, rheotaxis and predator–prey interactions. In addition, many fish behaviors, such as aggressive lateral displays and reproductive body quivers, involve fin and body motions that generate water movements that can be detected by the lateral line system of nearby fish. This mechanosensory system is well studied for its role in obstacle avoidance and detection of inadvertent hydrodynamic cues generated during schooling and predator–prey interactions; however, little research has focused on the role of mechanosensory communication during social interactions. Here, we summarize the current literature on the use of mechanosensation-mediated behaviors during agonistic and reproductive encounters, as well as during parental care. Based on these studies, we hypothesize that mechanosensory signaling is an important but often overlooked mode of communication during conspecific social interactions in many fish species, and we highlight its importance during multimodal communication. Finally, we suggest potential avenues of future research that would allow us to better understand the role of mechanosensation in fish communication.
The authors declare no competing or financial interests.
Writing - original draft, review and editing: J.M.B. and K.P.M. Funding acquisition: J.M.B. and K.P.M.
Support was provided to K.P.M. by startup funds from the College of Science and the Department of Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University, a Louisiana Board of Regents RCS Grant, ORAU Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, and National Science Foundation (IOS-1456004; IOS-1456558). J.M.B. was supported by a Louisiana Board of Regents Graduate Fellowship, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Sigma Xi and a Raney Award from the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd