Larval Gobiidae (Teleostei: Perciformes) Of Carrie Bow Cay, Belize, Central America
Abstract:Little descriptive and specific taxonomic information is available regarding the early life history stages of Caribbean coral-reef fishes. Ongoing studies at the Smithsonian Institution's research station at Carrie Bow Cay, Belize, involving the rearing of net-collected larval fishes is allowing specific identifications of numerous larval types. Field protocol includes preserving larval types in ethanol plus butylated hydroxytoluene to enhance the retention of orange and yellow pigments. Studies of fish larvae at Carrie Bow during the summer months of several years between 1993–1997 have yielded generic or specific identifications of 21 goby larvae belonging to ten genera. Separating closely related larval types in the field was facilitated by microscopic observations of combined patterns of melanophores and chromatophores. Identification of morphological types was aided by comparing countable features of larvae and reared juveniles with those of adult Caribbean gobies from USNM collections. Continued implementation of the methods outlined herein should prove valuable in identifying much more of the ichthyoplankton fauna of the Caribbean. Species-level identifications of larvae of coral reef fishes will render these life history stages useful in a variety of studies including those of phylogenetic relationships, ecology, as well as reproductive and fisheries biology. Including information from larval morphology in systematic studies of the Gobioidei may help clarify poorly understood relationships within the Suborder. Supraspecific patterns of chromatophores warrant further investigation as a novel suite of phylogenetically informative ontogenetic features.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: May 1, 2003
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