Contacts Centre for Environmental Biology


Assistant Professor

CBA research group(s):

Animal Diversity & Conservation

Personal webpage

Team webpage

Paulo Fonseca

Main Research Interests

My main research interests are in communication and evolution in insects and fish. Namely address questions such as 1) what is the role of the acoustic signals within the multimodal communication system in model fish; 2) how well is the hearing pathway adapted to perceive the communication sounds; 3) How is sound production achieved ? 4) how is frequency discrimination achieved at the cicadas auditory organ and can the auditory pathway encode the fine structure of the calling song?


Academic Qualifications

- 2002: Agregação in Zoology and Anthropology (Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon)

- 1994: PhD in Morphology (Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon)

Recent Publications

Carriço R., Amorim M.C.P. & Fonseca P.J. 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., Rismondo S., Caiano M., Pedroso S.S., Fonseca P.J. & Amorim M.C.P. 2014. The role of agonistic sounds in male nest defence in the painted goby Pomatoschistus pictus. Ethology 120(1):53-63.

Amorim M.C.P., Pedroso S.S., Bolgan M., Jordão J.M., Caiano M. & Fonseca P.J. 2013. Painted gobies sing their quality out loud: acoustic rather than visual signals advertise male quality and contribute to mating success. Functional Ecology 27(2):289-298.

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

Bolgan M., Pedroso S., Picciulin M., Fonseca P.J. & Amorim M.C.P. 2013. Differential investment in acoustic communication during social interactions in two closely-related sand goby species. Behaviour 150(2):133–152.

Pedroso S.S., Barber I., Svensson O., Fonseca P.J. & Amorim M.C.P. 2013. Courtship Sounds Advertise Species Identity and Male Quality in Sympatric Pomatoschistus spp, Gobies. Plos One 8(6):e64620.

Fonseca P.J. & Maia Alves J. 2012. A new concept in underwater high fidelity low frequency sound generation. Review of Scientific Instruments 83(5):055007.

Jordão J.M., Fonseca P.J. & Amorim M.C.P. 2012. Chorusing behaviour in the Lusitanian Toadfish: should I match my neighbours’ Calling Rate? Ethology 118(9):885-895.

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

Vasconcelos R.O., Carriço R., Ramos A., Modesto T., Fonseca P.J. & Amorim M.C.P. 2012. Vocal behavior predicts reproductive success in  teleost fish. Behavioral Ecology 23(2):375-383

Amorim M.C.P., Simões J.M., Almada V. & Fonseca P.J. 2011. Stereotypy and variation of the mating call in the Lusitanian toadfish, Halobatrachus didactylus. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 65(4):707-716.

Vasconcelos R.O., Fonseca P.J., Amorim M.C.P. & Ladich F. 2011. Representation of complex vocalizations in the Lusitanian toadfish auditory system: evidence of fine temporal, frequency and amplitude discrimination. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 278(1707):826-834.

Vasconcelos R.O., Sisneros J.A., Amorim M.C.P. & Fonseca P.J. 2011. Auditory saccular sensitivity of the Lusitanian toadfish: low frequency tuning enhances acoustic communication throughout the year. Journal of Comparative Physiology 197(9):903-913.

Amorim M.C.P., Simões J.M., Fonseca P.J. & Almada V.C. 2010. Patterns of shelter usage and social aggregation by the vocal Lusitanian toadfish. Marine Biology 157(3):495–503.

Amorim M.C.P., Simões J.M., Mendonça N., Bandarra N.M., Almada V.C. & Fonseca P.J. 2010. Lusitanian toadfish song reflects male quality. Journal of Experimental Biology 213:2997-3004.

Pereira C.M., Rosado J., Seabra S.G., Pina-Martins F., Paulo O.S. & Fonseca P.J. 2010. Conus pennaceus: a phylogenetic analysis of the Mozambican molluscan complex. African Journal of Marine Science 32(3):591–599.

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(2):155-165.

Amorim M.C.P., Simões J.M., Fonseca P.J. & Turner G.F. 2008. Species differences in courtship acoustic signals among five Lake Malawi cichlid species (Pseudotropheus spp.): possible cues for mate recognition. Journal of Fish Biology 72(6):1355-1368.

Amorim MC.P., Simões P. & Fonseca P.J. 2008. Acoustic communication in the Lusitanian toadfish, Halobatrachus didactylus: evidence for an unusual large vocal repertoire. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 88(5):1069-1073.

Fonseca P.J., Serrão E.A., Pina-Martins F., Silva P., Mira S., Quartau J.A., Paulo O.S. & Cancela L. 2008. The evolution of cicada songs contrasted with the relationships inferred from mitochondrial DNA (Insecta, Hemiptera). Bioacoustics 18(1):17-34.

Simões J.M., Duarte I.G., Fonseca P.J., Turner G.F. & Amorim M.C. 2008. Courtship and agonistic sounds by the cichlid fish Pseudotropheus zebra. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 124(2):1332-1338.

Simões J.M., Fonseca P.J., Turner G.F. & Amorim M.C.P. 2008. African cichlid Pseudotropheus spp. Males moan to females during foreplay. Journal of Fish Biology 72(10):2689-2694.

Fonseca P.J. & Correia T. 2007. Effects of temperature on tuning of the auditory pathway in the cicada Tettigetta josei (Hemiptera, Tibicinidae). Journal of Experimental Biology 210:1834-1845.

Ongoing Projects

  •  “The vocal brain of fish: development of auditory processing and vocal motor control”. Funded by Macau Science and Technology Development Fund, China. Team: RO Vasconcelos (University of Saint Joseph, Macau, China), J Sisneros (University of Washington, Estados Unidos da América), PJ Fonseca (FCUL).
  • Role of acoustic signals in mate choice and male-male assessment in a strongly-vocal fish, Halobatrachus didactylus. (FCT: PTDC/MAR/118767/2010).
  • Exploiting the bioacoustics of cicadas to enhance the efficiency of sound transmission (2009). Funded by the Us government (US Navy).
  • Sound production in Pomatoschistus sand gobies: inter- and intraspecific communication. (PTDC/MAR/68868/2006).
  • Temporal resolution in the auditory pathway of cicadas.


Other Information

Fonseca PJ, Maia Alves J (2011a). Underwater Sound Generator. Patent Application PT105,474. International Application PCT/IB2012/050101.

Fonseca PJ, Maia Alves J (2011b). Electret capsule hydrophone: a new underwater sound detector. Patent Application  PT105,933.