Development of transformation larvae and juveniles of Ctenogobius boleosoma, Ctenogobius shufeldti, and Gobionellus oceanicus (Pisces: Gobiidae) from western North Atlantic estuaries, with notes on early life history
Development of transformation larvae and juveniles of the sympatric estuarine gobies Ctenogobius boleosoma (7.1–19.8 mm standard length (SL)), Ctenogobius shufeldti (10.1–19.9 mm SL), and Gobionellus oceanicus (10.5–19.6 mm SL), is described and
partly illustrated. Specimens from the Atlantic (n = 102) and Gulf of Mexico (n = 22) coasts of the United States were examined. Ctenogobius boleosoma and C. shufeldti (formerly assigned to Gobionellus) have been placed in Ctenogobius by Pezold (1984). The present
study describes larvae of C. boleosoma and G. oceanicus that are more developed than larvae in the same size range described in previous studies. Presence of a vertical internal streak of melanin in the caudal peduncle, between lateral and ventral midlines, distinguishes transformation
larvae of C. boleosoma from those of G. oceanicus. Transforming C. boleosoma have greater relative head length, eye diameter, body depth, and least depth of caudal peduncle than G. oceanicus. Pectoral and pelvic fins of transforming C. boleosoma extend beyond
a vertical through the anterior margin of the gas bladder, but they do not reach this vertical in G. oceanicus. Presence of an internal V-shaped spot on the nape distinguishes late transformation larvae and juveniles of C. boleosoma from those of G. oceanicus and C.
shufeldti. Juvenile C. boleosoma and C. shufeldti have greater relative eye diameter, body depth, and least depth of caudal peduncle than G. oceanicus A provisional key is presented to distinguish among early stages of these species of Ctenogobius and Gobionellus,
and Evorthodus lyricus, a sympatric goby with six spines. Moderate variation in morphometric characters was noted, but it was difficult to identify causes. Factors considered were geographic area, preservative, and variation in size at transformation. Occurrence of early stages and
adults in the same intertidal habitats was noted for C. boleosoma and C. shufeldti. Based on occurrence of transformation larvae, C. boleosoma spawns during summer and fall along the Atlantic coast. Ctenogobius shufeldti has a more narrow range of temperature tolerance
than C. boleosoma .
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