In proving that mud crabs can hear, Northeastern University researcher A. Randall Hughes answered a question most scientists in her field never thought to ask.

Triggered by a layman’s question, her findings, published in a scientific journal last month, are providing new insight into the ecological community found on coral reefs.

“This project was initiated by a TV producer that we were working with who knew that some of these fish made a lot of noise,” explained Hughes, the lead researcher on the study published in the June 18 edition of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a journal that focuses on the biological sciences.