Electrical signalling of dominance in a wild population of electric fish

Vincent Fugère, Hernán Ortega, Rü Diger Krahe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Animals often use signals to communicate their dominance status and avoid the costs of combat. We investigated whether the frequency of the electric organ discharge (EOD) of the weakly electric fish, Sternarchorhynchus sp., signals the dominance status of individuals. We correlated EOD frequency with body size and found a strong positive relationship. We then performed a competition experiment in which we found that higher frequency individuals were dominant over lower frequency ones. Finally, we conducted an electrical playback experiment and found that subjects more readily approached and attacked the stimulus electrodes when they played lowfrequency signals than high-frequency ones. We propose that EOD frequency communicates dominance status in this gymnotiform species.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)197-200
Number of pages4
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - 23 Apr 2011


  • Communication
  • Dominance
  • Sternarchorhynchus
  • Weakly electric fish


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