Dr. Eric S. Fortune, PhD
  Department of Biological Sciences
  New Jersey Institute of Technology
  Newark, NJ 07102-1982 USA
  Tel: +1 443 312 9610, FAX: +1 973 596 5689
  e-mail: eric.fortune@njit.edu


Research program: electric fish
Research program: songbirds


Field Studies

Our field studies of natural behavior are tightly integrated with our efforts to uncover how sensory and motor systems are used to generate and control behavior. We measure the electrosensory consequences of social interactions in natural settings to obtain new insights in both how to probe the nervous system and how to interpret neural results.


A sonogram showin the electrical interactions of three Eigenmannia in a stream in the Ecuadorian Amazon basin.

More recently we've been examining locomotor behavior in the natural habitat in relation to social and other cues.

JW Player goes here

A short video showing the movements of two Brachyhypopomus in Orchidea creek at Sacha Lodge, Ecuador.

Our field work also has important technological, conservation, and teaching components. We have been developing and deploying low-cost monitoring systems for weakly electric fishes that can be used in conservation efforts in sensitive Amazon habitats. We also involve local students and scientists in every aspect of this work.


Relevant publications

Stamper, S.A., Carrera-G, E., Tan, E.W., Fugere, V., Krahe, R., and E.S. Fortune (2010) Species differences in group size and electrosensory interference in weakly electric fishes: Implications for electrosensory processing. Behav Brain Res., PMID:19874855.

We describe the electrosensory structure of multi-species flocks of Gymnotiform fishes along the Napo River in eastern Ecuador. We find that Apteronotus form groups of conspecifics, whereas Sternopygus are most commonly found alone. Interestingly, groups of 3 or more Apteronotus appear to not produce low-frequency 'envelopes' in the combined electric field. We believe that such envelopes might impair electrosensory function, and thus the fish may employ some currently unknown behavior to avoid the potentially detrimental envelopes.
Tan, E.W., Nizar, J.M., Carrera-G, E., and E.S. Fortune (2005) Electrosensory interference in naturally occurring aggregates of a species of weakly electric fish, Eigenmannia virescens. Behav. Brain Res., 164:83-92, PMID:16099058.

Characterizes the electric fields that are most commonly experienced by Eigenmannia both in the upper Amazon of Ecuador and in laboratory settings. Eigenmannia are preferentially found in groups and experience ongoing high-frequency (> 20 Hz) global oscillations.
@ericfortunephd 11-Dec-2015