Marine Biology

, Volume 148, Issue 1, pp 205–212 | Cite as

Sexual dimorphism in the buccal cavity of paternal mouthbrooding cardinalfishes (Pisces: Apogonidae)

  • A. Barnett
  • D. R. BellwoodEmail author
Research Article


The mechanical basis of mouthbrooding in the coral reef cardinalfish (family Apogonidae) has yet to be established. Sexual dimorphism in the anatomy of the oral jaws and buccal cavity of seven species of paternal mouthbrooding apogonids was therefore investigated. A novel silicon injecting technique was used to quantify between sexes differences in size and shape of the buccal cavity. Osteological and morphological measurements were also examined to identify the structural features associated with variation in buccal volumes. Males buccal volumes were proportionally larger by 20–42% in five of the seven species (P<0.01), a change that was largely a result of an increase in the depth of buccal cavity. Absence of distinct osteological differences between sexes suggests that changes in the soft anatomy are primarily responsible for the increased buccal volume in males. The average increase of 31% in buccal volume of males appears to reflect their role in mouthbrooding. This is the first study to demonstrate sexual dimorphism of the buccal cavity of multiple mouthbrooding species.


Sexual Dimorphism Great Barrier Reef Buccal Cavity Principal Component Analysis Result Brooding Female 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank M. Depczynski and F. Merida for field assistance and A. Hoey, C. Fulton and M. Hooganboom and N. Konow for helpful discussions and advice. This work was supported by the Australian Research Council. Contribution# of the Centre for Coral Reef Biodiversity. JCU animal experimentation ethics approval# A650


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Coral Reef Biodiversity, Department of Marine BiologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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