The killifish Rivulus marmoratus, mangrove rivulus, represents the one of the two potentially truly “mangrove dependent” fish species in western Atlantic mangrove ecosystems. The distribution of this species closely parallels the range of red mangroves. These plants
and fish exhibit parallel ecological and physiological tolerances to the wide ranges of tropical temperatures and salinities, as well as substrate and hydrological conditions of mangrove habitats. The mangrove rivulus, R. marmoratus, is, as well, the only truly marine representative
of a speciose genus of otherwise freshwater fish species. Many of the biological specializations of this species characterize the specific challenges to survival in mangrove forest conditions. As recent studies report, this fish species, once considered “rare,” has been shown to
be very abundant in specific substrate microhabitats of the mangal. Among the unique specializations of this fish are amphibious emersion from water, survival in moist detrital substrate during periods of low water or drought, and reproduction through internal self-fertilization producing
homozygous clones. The autecology of this species provides fascinating insights and generates a wealth of questions regarding evolution of specific adaptations for distribution, dispersal, colonization, population genetics and the interrelationships between adaptation and specialization. The
Indian River Lagoon (IRL) represents both the site of rediscovery of the fish as well as the northern frontier of the species distribution range, habitat, and ecosystem. This suggests close interrelationships and parallels in the parameters to which the species has adapted, perhaps representing
a commonage, of ecological association. These aspects are discussed with respect to details and insight needed to develop strategies for the management of unique communities and ecosystems, especially along their natural distributional borders. The topic raises such questions as: Are some
“exotic species” actually examples of newly arrived colonizers, representing dynamic biotic responses to climate change and/or anthropogenic habitat modification?
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