There are not only birds and whales that can sing. Small aquatic insects swimming in the dark water of still water can also produce sound when looking for a mate. This acoustic diversity has been totally neglected for years. Here, we aimed at exploring this unforeseen diversity. We first tested whether the acoustic communities that can be recorded in floodplain channels of the Rhône river are linked to the connectivity, a major ecological factor structuring the local freshwater landscape. To achieve this, we monitored with hydrophones six channels differing in their connectivity to the Rhône river. The composition of the six acoustic communities revealed clear differences which could be ordered according to a gradient of connectivity. This indicates that the sound coming from freshwater habitats can produce valuable ecological information. We completed this project along the Rhône river with underwater analyses of temperate pond soundscapes, and by the monitoring of a small but loud insect, the water boatman Micronecta scholtzi.

Participants and collaborations

Camille Desjonquères (PI), Diego Llusia, Fanny Rybak (University of Paris Saclay, France), Emmanuel Castella (University of Geneva, Switzerland)


LabEx BCDiv, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Fondation Fyssen


Sound sample

A chorus of Micronecta scholtzi



An art/science installation by Ben Gottesman, David Rothenberg, Camille Desjonquères and Casey Synaesael at the Depth Exhibit at the Science Gallery Detroit, Summer 2019, revealing what goes on underwater in even the most unassuming pond.


. Desjonquères C, Rybak F, Castella E, Llusia D, Sueur J (2018) – Linking sound and ecology: acoustic community composition and lateral connectivity in a riverine floodplain. Scientific Reports, 8: 1438. link

. Desjonquères C, Rybak F, Ulloa JS, Kempf A, Bar Hen A, Sueur J (2018) – Monitoring the acoustic activity of an aquatic insect population in relation with temperature, vegetation and noise. Freshwater Biology. link

. Linke S, Gifford T, Desjonquères C, Tonolla D, Aubin T, Barclay L, Karaconstantis C, Kennard MJ, Rybak F, Sueur J (2018) – Real-time ecosystem monitoring using passive acoustics in freshwater environments. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 16: 231-238. link

. Desjonquères C, Rybak F, Depraetere M, Gasc A, Le Viol I, Pavoine S, Sueur J (2015) – First description of underwater acoustic diversity in three temperate ponds. PeerJ, 3, e1393. link