Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Aquatic fish jump into picture of evolutionary land invasion

Date:
October 9, 2011
Source:
Northern Arizona University
Summary:
Research sometimes means looking for one thing and finding another. Such was the case when biology professor Alice Gibb and her research team witnessed a small amphibious fish, the mangrove rivulus, jump with apparent skill and purpose out of a small net and back into the water. This was no random flop, like you might see from a trout that's just been landed. The rivulus seemed to know what it was doing.

The time-elapsed image above, taken by researchers at Northern Arizona University, shows the mosquitofish's ability to move outside of water with apparent skill and purpose. The study suggests that vertebrates may have invaded land more frequently than previously thought
Credit: Image courtesy of Northern Arizona University

Research sometimes means looking for one thing and finding another. Such was the case when biology professor Alice Gibb and her research team at Northern Arizona University witnessed a small amphibious fish, the mangrove rivulus, jump with apparent skill and purpose out of a small net and back into the water. This was no random flop, like you might see from a trout that's just been landed. The rivulus seemed to know what it was doing.

They hadn't expected to see that behavior, even from a fish known to spend time out of the water. So before long, what began as a study on the evolution of feeding behavior was shifted to a study of how fish behave when stranded on land. And considering what is implied by the truism "like a fish out of water," the results came as another surprise.

Some fully aquatic fishes, as the author's video clips show (see: http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/acg/video.html), also can jump effectively on land even without specialized anatomical attributes. This has significant implications for evolutionary biology, Gibb said, because the finding implies that "the invasion of the land by vertebrates may have occurred much more frequently than has been previously thought."

The study is summarized in a paper, "Like a Fish out of Water: Terrestrial Jumping by Fully Aquatic Fishes," that appears online in the JEZ A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology. Gibb said the study "supports a big-picture theory in evolution," which is that the nervous system, in its control of bones and muscles, can allow a new behavior to appear without necessarily bringing about a physical change.

In the case of aquatic fish, Gibb said, "This shows that you don't have to have legs or rigid pectoral fins to move around on land. So if you go back and look at the fossil record to try to say which fish could move around on land, you'd have a hard time knowing for sure."

The original feeding study began with guppies, then moved to a relative, the mangrove rivulus. Once the rivulus exhibited the tail-flip jumping maneuver, Gibb shifted the focus of the research. Eventually, the guppy came back into the picture. Literally.

"When you do a study like this, you have to ask what your control is," Gibb said. "If a known amphibious fish is a good jumper, then what's a bad jumper?"

Enter the guppy, a fully aquatic fish.

"The guppy jumped almost as well as the amphibious fish did," Gibb said. "And no one has ever suggested that a guppy is an amphibious fish." As a result, "we put everything we could get our hands on" in front of a high-speed camera, Gibb said. Some of those additional subjects included the mosquitofish, which has been introduced into tributaries of Oak Creek, and a common pet store zebra fish, which is a very distant relative of guppies and mosquitofish.

The mosquitofish "has become our lab rat," Gibb said. "It's accessible, it comes from a group that has other jumpers, and it's been reported that this fish jumps out of the water to get away from predators and then jumps back in."

That particular escape behavior, Gibb said, has never been filmed. Similar stories about other fish add to mostly anecdotal literature on the topic that "tends to be old and very diffuse."

Today's high-speed video systems give Gibb an opportunity to change that. What the cameras reveal is that both species produce a coordinated maneuver in which the fish curls its head toward the tail and then pushes off the ground to propel itself through the air.

Gibb and her team have discussed going into the field to capture video of fish performing this behavior in the wild. But for now Gibb and her colleagues are endeavoring to determine if there is directionality to voluntary locomotion on land and to investigate the genetic basis of the jumping behavior.

"Maybe fishes that are very good at jumping are poor swimmers," Gibb said.. "We want to look at the compromises that may have been made to favor one behavior over another."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northern Arizona University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alice C. Gibb, Miriam A. Ashley-Ross, Cinnamon M. Pace, John H. Long. Fish out of water: terrestrial jumping by fully aquatic fishes. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology, 2011; DOI: 10.1002/jez.711

Cite This Page:

Northern Arizona University. "Aquatic fish jump into picture of evolutionary land invasion." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111005110231.htm>.
Northern Arizona University. (2011, October 9). Aquatic fish jump into picture of evolutionary land invasion. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111005110231.htm
Northern Arizona University. "Aquatic fish jump into picture of evolutionary land invasion." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111005110231.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

AP (July 30, 2014) River otters were hitting the water slides to beat the summer heatwave on Wednesday at Ichikawa City's Zoological and Botanical Garden. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins