Marta Bolgan


PhD Candidate

My PhD project consists of exploring the potential of passive acoustic monitoring in the management and conservation of a threatened freshwater fish, the Arctic charr, in Irish lakes.

Many fish species rely on sound in reproductive and spawning activities, territory defence, food competition, homing, navigation or as a response to threat. It is therefore possible to locate and identify particular species in the wild by using the passive listening technique. The passive listening technique consists of the use of hydrophones to receive and record environmental noise as well as fish communicative sounds. This technique is a non-invasive, low-expense and reliable method which is becoming a popular tool in marine biology and fishery research thanks to the plasticity of its possible applications. Arctic charr is a freshwater fish that is classified as vulnerable in the Irish Red List and is protected under national legislation. Good quality spawning sites are necessary to sustain a viable population of this species. My PhD project aims are: (i) record and catalogue sounds naturally produced by Arctic charr; (ii) identify the behavioural and ecological context in which they are produced; and (iii) investigate whether monitoring of these sounds in Irish lakes will allow important spawning grounds and preferred habitats to be identified.

BSc Honours Biology, University of Trieste
MSc Marine Biology, University of Trieste

Seafarer’s Medical (ENG11) certificate
SSI open water
Personal Survival Techniques STCW-95 Certificate
Wetland keeper certificate

Research Interests
During my short academic career, I have gained a strong interest in studying animal behaviour and acoustic communication in fish. The areas of my scientific activity focus mainly on animal behaviour, acoustic communication in fish, passive listening technique and fish sensory biology (neurophysiology).

Previous Research Experience
University of Venice, April 2012 (2 months): Analysis of bioacoustic data. Two separate acoustic surveys were carried out during summer 2011 in artificial rocky habitat of the Venice lagoon. My research scholarship focused on the investigation of the acoustic soundscape and the identification of Sciaena umbra calls in the recorded tracks obtained thanks to passive listening technique.
We have therefore achieved information regarding the sea ambient noise, the fish sound production as well as the presence of anthropogenic noise close to natural and artificial rocky reefs.

Departamento de Biologia Animal e Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidad de Lisboa, (4 months): my work has focused on achieving information on the auditory sensitivity of two closely related sand gobies species, Pomatoschistus pictus and Pomatoschistus microps. I’ve collaborated in a neurophysiology study, investigating whether the different species are capable of encoding communication signals, such as sounds produced during courtship and agonistic interactions. Therefore, I have acquired experience in using electrophysiological techniques to record the auditory evoked potentials during acoustic stimulation under laboratory condition.

Departamento de Biologia Animal e Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidad de Lisboa (7 months): For the data collection of my MSc thesis in marine Biology I had collaborated in a Portuguese Government funded project. The project focused on studying the production of sound in sand gobies (Pomatoschistus spp). My work has focused on multi-modal communication in closely-related Gobidae species, in order to investigate the importance of different sensory systems (mostly visual and acoustic) for species recognition, mate choice and to assess male quality.

Selected Publications

Marta Bolgan, Joanne O’ Brien, Martin Gammell: The behavioural repertoire of Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus (L.)) in captivity: a case study for testing ethogram completeness and reducing observer effects. Ecology of Freshwater Fish (2015).

Marta Picciulin, Marta Bolgan, Antonio Codarin, Riccardo Fiorin, Silvia Colla, Stefano Malavasi: Characterisation of the noise emitted by the passage of a passenger cruise liner in the Venice lagoon: concern about possible effects on the local fish community. ANNALES- Ser. Hist. Nat. 10/2013; 23(2):143-150.

Marta Picciulin, Marta Bolgan, Antonio Codarin, Riccardo Fiorin, Matteo Zucchetta, Stefano Malavasi: Passive acoustic monitoring of Sciaena umbra on rocky habitats in the Venetian littoral zone. Fisheries Research 03/2013;

Marta Bolgan, Silvia Pedroso, Marta PIcciulin, Paulo Fonseca, M. Clara Amorim: Differential investment in acoustic communication during social interactions in two closely-related sand goby species. Behaviour 01/2013;

Maria Clara P. Amorim, Silvia S. Pedroso, Marta Bolgan, Joana M. Jordao, Manuel Caiano, Paulo J Fonseca: Painted gobies sing their quality out loud: acoustic rather than visual signals advertise male quality and contribute to mating success. Functional Ecology 01/2012;

Silvia S Pedroso, Marta Bolgan, Joana M Jordão, Paulo J Fonseca, M Clara P Amorim: Acoustic communication in Pomatoschistus spp.: a comparison between closely related species.. Advances in experimental medicine and biology 01/2012; 730:113-5.

Marta Bolgan, Silvia S Pedroso, Raquel O Vasconcelos, Joana M Jordão, M Clara P Amorim, Paulo J Fonseca: Hearing sensitivity of the painted goby, Pomatoschistus pictus. Advances in experimental medicine and biology 01/2012; 730:109-11.

Bolgan, Rodeano, Manna, Ferrero: Animal welfare and scientific research: the meerkat group at Parco Zoo Punta Verde.. International Zoo Yearbook 01/2009; 374(56/5):281-288.

Bolgan, Rodeano, Manna, Ferrero: What enrichment motivates meerkats?. Shape of Enrichment. 01/2008; 17(4):11-13.

Contact Details
Telephone number(s): +353 (0) 894230616
Postal Address: Marine and Freshwater Research Centre, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Galway,

Related Links


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