Clara Amorim

Clara Amorim

Post-doctoral fellow



Phone: + 351 21 8811700 (ext. 320)

Fax: + 351 21 8860954

Curriculum vitae



:: Research interests


- Fish acoustic communication:

            Species-specific and individual discrimination

            Mate choice and competition between males

            Chorusing behaviour 

            Multi-modal communication - relative role of visual, chemical and acoustic signals

- Animal behaviour, ecology and physiology:

            Courtship and agonistic behaviour

            Reproductive strategies, parental care

            Metabolic costs of sound production in fish



:: Current research projects


The role of sound production in mate choice and speciation of Lake Malawi cichlids

The role of male species-specific colour patterns has been suggested as the driving force of the spectacular rate of speciation observed in cichlids of the Great African Lakes through sexual selection, but other sensory modalities have been overlooked. A preliminary study has shown that the courtship sounds made by males of three sympatric Malawi cichlids, Pseudotropheus zebra, P. callainos and the undescribed species P. ‘zebra gold’ differ significantly in several sound measures, suggesting that divergent sexual selection may be also acting on the acoustic channel. In this project courtship sounds will be recorded from full Pseudotropheus species (which co-occur in nature without interbreeding), geographic races (that show partial reproductive isolation - incipient species) and hybrid forms. Playback experiments will be carried out to explore whether females can differentiate among conspecific and heterospecific males on the basis of differences in courtship calls.


Role of acoustic signals in mate choice and male-male assessment in a strongly-vocal fish, Halobatrachus didactylus

Numerous teleost fish species produce sounds during agonistic and reproductive behaviour but experimental evidence demonstrating the role of acoustic signals in social communication is very scarce. Fish have simple acoustic repertoires and have vocal and auditory neural circuitry organized similarly to those of other vertebrates and are thus ideal to study the role of social context-dependent vocal behaviour in vertebrates. With this project will use the highly vocal batrachoidids fish as a model (the Lusitanian toadfish, Halobatrachus didactylus), and aims to (1) ascertain the relation between acoustic signalling and reproductive success with a combination of muting experiments and parentage fingerprinting analysis; (2) test if vocal activity signals parental ability by measuring offspring survival and testing the ability to the defend their nest from intruders; (3) test the role of sound production and its modulation by the major teleost androgen (11 keto-testosterone, 11KT) in male-male assessment during territorial defence with muting experiments. We expect to show that vocal activity predicts male reproductive success and signals parental ability and is therefore used by females in their choices of mates. We also expect that muted males will be less efficient in defending their nests than sham-operated males and that 11KT will have a major role in modulating behaviour and acoustic traits.

FCT Project PTDC/MAR/118767/2010 (2012-2014)


Funded by: FCT - SFRH / BPD / 41489 / 2007 (PD grant)



:: Presentations


Comunicação Acústica em Peixes: Lago Malawi (pps)

O Xarroco - Manhãs da Renascença de 4-10-2011 (mp3)



:: Publications


Vasconcelos R.O., P.W. Alderks, A. Ramos, P.J. Fonseca, M.C.P. Amorim, J.A. Sisneros (in press). Vocal differentiation parallels development of auditory saccular sensitivity in a highly soniferous fish. J. Exp.Biol.


Félix P.M., T.J. Pereira, P.J. Fonseca, M.C.P. Amorim & J.L. Costa (in press) Feeding ecology and life-history strategy of nesting males in a fish with long parental care, Halobatrachus didactylus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801). J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. UK


Amorim M.C.P., C. Conti, T. Modesto, A. Gonçalves, P.J. Fonseca (2015). Agonistic sounds signal male quality in the Lusitanian toadfish. Physiol. Behav. 149: 192–198.


Conti C., P.J. Fonseca, M. Picciulin & M.C.P. Amorim (2015). How effective are acoustic signals in territorial defence in the Lusitanian toadfish? J. Exp. Biol. 218: 893-898 doi:10.1242/jeb.116673


Sousa-Santos C., P.J Fonseca & M.C.P. Amorim (2015). Development and characterization of novel microsatellite loci for Lusitanian toadfish, Halobatrachus didactylus. PeerJ3:e731; DOI 10.7717/peerj.731


Amorim M.C.P., R.O. Vasconcelos & P.J. Fonseca (2015) – Fish sounds and mate choice. In: Sound communication in fishes. Animal Signals and Communication, Vol. 4. Ladich, F. (ed.). Springer-Verlag, Wien, pp 1-33.


Carriço, R., M.C.P. Amorim, P.J. Fonseca (2014). Reproductive success in the Lusitanian toadfish Halobatrachus didactylus: Influence of male and nest sizes. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 456:65-69.


Pereira, R., S. Rismondo, M. Caiano, S.S. Pedroso, P.J. Fonseca & M.C.P. Amorim (2014). The role of agonistic sounds in male nest defence in the painted goby Pomatoschistus pictus. Ethology. 120: 53-63. doi: 10.1111/eth.12180


Amorim, M.C.P., A. Nunes da Ponte; M. Caiano, S. S. Pedroso, R. Pereira & P. J. Fonseca (2013). Mate preference in the painted goby: the influence of visual and acoustic courtship. J. Exp. Biol. 216: 3996-4004.


Pedroso, S.S. I. Barber, O. Svensson, P.J. Fonseca, M.C.P. Amorim (2013). Courtship sounds advertise species identity and male quality in sympatric Pomatoschistus spp. Gobies. PloS One 8: e64620.


Robalo, J.I., Crespo A.M., Castilho R., Francisco S. M., Amorim, M.C.P., V.C. Almada (2013). Are local extinctions and recolonizations continuing at the colder limits of marine fish distributions? Halobatrachus didactylus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801) a possible candidate. Marine Biology 160: 2461-2467. DOI 10.1007/s00227-013-2241-5  pdf


Bolgan, M., S.S. Pedroso, M. Picciulin, P.J. Fonseca & M.C.P. Amorim (2013). Differential investment in acoustic communication during social interactions in two closely related sand goby species. Behaviour 150: 133–152. doi:10.1163/1568539X-00003041.


Amorim, M.C.P., S.S. Pedroso, M. Bolgan, J. M. Jordão, M. Caiano & P.J. Fonseca (2013). Painted gobies sing their quality out loud: acoustic rather than visual signals advertise male quality and contribute to mating success. Functional Ecology. 27: 289-298. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12032  pdf


Ramos, A., P.J. Fonseca, T. Modesto, V.C. Almada & M.C.P. Amorim (2012). Alloparental behaviour in the highly vocal Lusitanian toadfish. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 434–435: 58-62.


Jordão JJ, Fonseca PJ, Amorim MCP. 2012 Chorusing behaviour in the Lusitanian toadfish: should I match my neighbours’ calling rate? Ethology 118: 885-895. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0310.2012.02078.x pdf


Vasconcelos R. O., R. Carriço, A. Ramos, T. Modesto, P. J. Fonseca & M. C. P. Amorim. 2012. Vocal behaviour predicts reproductive success in a teleost fish. Behavioral Ecology 23:375-383. Doi10.1093/beheco/arr199.


Amorim, M.C., Simões, J.M., Almada, V. & Fonseca, P. 2011. Stereotypy and variation of the mating call in the Lusitanian toadfish, Halobatrachus didactylus. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 65:707-716. 10.1007/s00265-010-1072-3


van der Sluijs, I., S. M. Gray, M. C. P. Amorim, I. Barber, U. Candolin, A. P. Hendry, R. Krahe, M. E. Maan, A. C. Utne-Palm, H.-J. Wagner, B. B.M. Wong. 2011. Communication in troubled waters: Responses of fish communication systems to changing environments. Evolutionary Ecology 25: 623-640.


Vasconcelos, R.O., P.J. Fonseca, M.C.P. Amorim & F. Ladich. 2011. Representation of complex vocalizations in the Lusitanian toadfish auditory system: evidence of fine temporal, frequency and amplitude discrimination. Proc. R. Soc. B. 278: 826-834. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.1376 


Vasconcelos, R.O.; J.A. Sisneros; M.C P. Amorim & P.J. Fonseca. 2011. Auditory saccular sensitivity of the vocal Lusitanian toadfish: low frequency tuning allows acoustic communication throughout the year. Journal of Comparative Physiology A. 197:903-913. DOI 10.1007/s00359-011-0651-8


Amorim, M.C., Simões, J.M., Almada, V. & Fonseca, P. 2010. Stereotypy and variation of the mating call in the Lusitanian toadfish, Halobatrachus didactylus. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 10.1007/s00265-010-1072-3


Amorim, M.C.P., Simões, J.M., Mendonça, N., Bandarra, N.M., Almada, V.C. and Fonseca, P.J. 2010. Lusitanian toadfish song reflects male quality. Journal of Experimental Biology 213:2297-3004.&  (inside JEB)


Vasconcelos, R. O., Simões, J. M., Almada, V. C., Fonseca, P. J. & Amorim, M. C. P. 2010. Vocal behaviour during territorial intrusions in the Lusitanian toadfish: boatwhistles also function as territorial ‘keep-out’ signals. Ethology 116: 155-165. DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0310.2009.01722.x


Amorim, M.C.P., J.M. Simões, P.J. Fonseca & V.C. Almada. 2010. Patterns of shelter usage and social aggregation by the vocal Lusitanian toadfish. Marine Biology 157:495–503. DOI 10.1007/s00227-009-1335-6 


Amorim, M.C.P., R.O. Vasconcelos & B. Parreira. 2009. Variability in the sonic muscles of the Lusitanian toadfish (Halobatrachus didactylus): acoustic signals may reflect individual quality. Can. J. Zool. 87: 718-725.  


Vasconcelos, R. O. & Amorim, M. C. P. 2009. Toadfish acoustic communication. Journal of Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom - Global Marine Environment 9: 11. 


Amorim, M.C.P. & A.S.M. Neves 2008. Male painted gobies (Pomatoschistus pictus) vocalise to defend territories. Behaviour. 145: 1065-1083.


Amorim, M.C.P. & R. O. Vasconcelos 2008. Variability in the mating calls of the Lusitanian toadfish Halobatrachus didactylus: potential cues for individual recognition. J. Fish Biol. 72: 1355-1368.


Amorim, M. C. P., J. M. Simões, P. J. Fonseca 2008. Acoustic communication in the Lusitanian toadfish, Halobatrachus didactylus: evidence for an unusual large vocal repertoire. Journal of Marine Biological Association of the UK 88: 1069-1073.


Simões, J. M., I. G. Duarte, P. J. Fonseca, G. F. Turner & M. C. P. Amorim (2008). Courtship and agonistic sounds by the cichlid fish Pseudotropheus zebra. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 124: 1332-1339.


Simões, J. M., P. J. Fonseca, G. F. Turner & M. C. P. Amorim 2008. African cichlid Pseudotropheus spp. males moan to females during foreplay. J. Fish Biol. 72: 2689-2694. 


Amorim, M. C. P., J. M. Simões, P. J. Fonseca & G. F. Turner 2008. Species differences in acoustic signals among five Lake Malawi cichlid species (Pseudotropheus spp.). J. Fish Biol. 72: 1355-1368.


Amorim, M.C.P. & A.S.M. Neves 2007. Acoustic signalling during courtship in the painted goby, Pomatoschistus pictus. Journal of Marine Biological Association of the UK, 87: 1017-1023. 


Vasconcelos, R. O., Amorim, M. C. P. & F. Ladich. 2007. Effects of Ship Noise on the detectability of communication signals in the Lusitanian Toadfish. J. Exp. Biol. 210: 2104-2112. (Inside JEB note)


Amorim, M. C. P., R. O. Vasconcelos, J. F. Marques & F. Almada. 2006. Seasonal variation of sound production in the Lusitanian toadfish, Halobatrachus didactylus. J. Fish Biol. 69: 1892-1899. 


Amorim, M.C.P. 2006. Diversity of sound production in fish. In: Communication in fishes. Vol. 1 F. Ladich, S. P. Collin, P. Moller & B.G. Kapoor (eds.). Science Publishers, Enfield. pp. 71-104.


Amorim, M.C.P. 2005. Diel and seasonal variations of sound production in captive grey gurnards, Eutrigla gurnardus. Acta Zool. Sin. 51:1013-1022.


Amorim, M.C.P. and Hawkins, A.D. 2005. Ontogeny of acoustic and feeding behaviour in the grey gurnard, Eutrigla gurnardus. Ethology 111: 255-269. 


Amorim, M.C.P. and Almada, V.C. 2005. The outcome of male-male encounters affects subsequent sound production during courtship in the cichlid fish Oreochromis mossambicus. Anim. Behav. 69: 595-601. 


Amorim, M.C.P., Knight, M.E., Stratoudakis, Y. and Turner, G.F. 2004. Differences in sounds made by courting males of three closely related Lake Malawi cichlid species. J. Fish Biol. 65:1358-1371. 


Amorim, M.C.P., Stratoudakis, Y. and Hawkins, A.D. 2004. Sound Production during competitive feeding in the grey gurnard, Eutrigla gurnardus (Triglidae). J. Fish Biol. 65: 182-194. 


Amorim, M.C.P., Fonseca, P.J. and Almada, V.C. 2003. Sound production during courtship and spawning of Oreochromis mossambicus: male-female and male-male interactions. J. Fish Biol. 62: 658-672. 


Amorim, M.C.P., M.L. McCracken and M.L. Fine (2002) - Metabolic costs of sound production in the oyster toadfish, Opsanus tau. Can. J. Zool. 80: 830-838. 


Amorim, M.C.P. & A.D. Hawkins (2000) – Growling for food: acoustic emissions during competitive feeding of the streaked gurnard. J. Fish Biol. 57: 895-907. 


Hawkins, A.D. & M.C.P. Amorim (2000) – Spawning sounds of the male haddock, Melanogrammus aeglefinus. Environ. Biol. Fish. 59: 29-41. 


Amorim, M.C.P. (1996) - Sound production in the blue-green damselfish, Chromis viridis (Cuvier, 1930) (Pomacentridae). Bioacoustics 6: 265-272.


Almada, V.C.; M.C.P. Amorim; E. Pereira; F. Almada; R. Matos; R. Godinho (1996) - Agonistic behaviour and sound production in Gaidropsarus mediterraneus (Gadidae). J. Fish. Biol. 49: 363-366. 

Horários e Contactos

Dias da semana

das 09:00h às 13:00h

tel +351 218 811 740