Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Color patterns in fish larvae may reveal relationships among species

Date:
July 24, 2013
Source:
Smithsonian
Summary:
Similarities in how different organisms look can indicate a close evolutionary relationship. Conversely, great differences in appearance can suggest a very distant relationship, as in many adult marine fish species. For the first time, however, a scientist has found that color patterns of different fish species in the larval stage can be very similar, revealing a closer evolutionary relationship than their adult forms would suggest.

While the adult forms of these five labriformes species look different from one another as adults, here in their larval stage they are all very similar. A: Halichoeres bivittatus B: Halichoeres garnoti C: Halichoeres maculipinna D: Halichoeres poeyi E: Thalassoma bifasciatum
Credit: Photos A−C by Julie Mounts and David Smith; D, E by Lee Weigt and Carole Baldwin.

Similarities in how different organisms look can indicate a close evolutionary relationship. Conversely, great differences in appearance can suggest a very distant relationship, as in many adult marine fish species. For the first time, however, a Smithsonian scientist has found that color patterns of different fish species in the larval stage can be very similar, revealing a closer evolutionary relationship than their adult forms would suggest.

Related Articles


The research is published in the July issue of the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Many marine fish species spend their larval stage near the ocean's surface―an environment completely different than the one they are in as adults. Two different environments often require two different body shapes and appearances, resulting in fish in their larval stage that bear little to no resemblance to their adult counterparts. Carole Baldwin, a zoologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, examined more than 200 species of marine fishes in their larval stage, primarily from the western Caribbean. She found that in many cases larval color patterns of different species were very similar, contributing evidence to a phylogenic relationship.

"Biologists, artists and tropical fish aquarists have described, illustrated or photographed color patterns in adult marine fishes for centuries, but color patterns in marine fish larvae have largely been neglected," said Baldwin. "Yet the larval stages of many marine fishes have subtle to striking, ephemeral color patterns that can potentially tell us a lot about a species' place on the taxonomic family tree."

Adult mullets, for instance, are very different in appearance than adult flying fish, yet when Baldwin examined these fishes in the larval stage she noticed that they share a unique transformation of color pattern that supports the idea that they could be closely related. Larvae of some species in the order Tetraodontiforme, like the pufferfish, and those in the order Lophiiforme, like the anglerfish, are strikingly similar in having the trunks of their bodies enclosed in an inflated yellow sac. Their appearance as adults, however, would not hint at a close relationship.

"More investigation of larval color patterns in marine fish is needed to fully assess their value in phylogenic reconstruction," said Baldwin. "But the evidence I've found so far is promising that this will be an important taxonomic resource in the future."

Color information on many more marine fish larvae is needed to fully use this new suite of evolutionary information, and Baldwin will encourage colleagues to obtain color photographs of larvae when possible. And studies on the formation of pigment, such as those conducted on the model freshwater zebrafish (Danio species), are needed.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Carole C. Baldwin. The phylogenetic significance of colour patterns in marine teleost larvae. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2013; 168 (3): 496 DOI: 10.1111/zoj.12033

Cite This Page:

Smithsonian. "Color patterns in fish larvae may reveal relationships among species." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130724200609.htm>.
Smithsonian. (2013, July 24). Color patterns in fish larvae may reveal relationships among species. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130724200609.htm
Smithsonian. "Color patterns in fish larvae may reveal relationships among species." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130724200609.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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