Natural history note - A novel terrestrial fish habitat inside emergent logs

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University of Chicago Press

Reports of new habitats for a major group of organisms are rare. Fishes display diverse adaptations for temporary (amphibious) existence on land, but to our knowledge, none have ever been reported regularly living inside emergent logs. Here, we show that the mangrove killifish, Kryptolebias marmoratus, a species previously known to emerse (leave the water) regularly, is now known to emerse and aggregate in large numbers inside decaying mangrove logs that have been "galleried" by terrestrial insects. This behavior has now been documented in both Belize, Central America, and Florida, U.S.A., populations and represents the first known case of fishes entering terrestrial woody material. The dense packing of fish in the narrow log galleries may imply a novel social context in which intraspecific aggressive behaviors are reduced, possibly mediated by the physiological limitations imposed within this restrictive habitat.

red mangrove, kryptolebias marmoratus, emersion, amphibious fish, rivulus-marmoratus, hermaphroditic fish, ecology, evolutionary biology
D. Scott Taylor, Bruce J. Turner, William P. Davis, and Ben B. Chapman. "A Novel Terrestrial Fish Habitat inside Emergent Logs," The American Naturalist, Vol. 171, No. 2 (February 2008), pp. 263-266. DOI: 10.1086/524960