Ecological and evolutionary consequences of early ontogenies of darters (Etheostomatini)

  • Michael D. Paine
Part of the Developments in environmental biology of fishes book series (DEBF, volume 4)


The ecological classification of fishes into reproductive guilds is based on the premises that (1) reproductive styles and early ontogeny are closely related, and (2) both are correlated with the ecology of a species. A comparison of early ontogenies of logperch (Percina caprodes), rainbow darter (Etheostoma caeruleum), and fantail darter (E. flabellare) confirmed these premises, and provided possible explanations for diversity within the Etheostomatini. Young logperch have limited vitelline circulation, hatch while still poorly developed, and therefore must drift from oxygen rich lotic habitats to lentic habitats where small planktonic prey are available. Young rainbow and fantail darters have extensive vitelline plexuses, are well developed at transition to first feeding, and begin feeding on aquatic insects. Thus there is no necessity for a drift interval. As a result, the latter species are adapted for stream life. Interspecific differences in reproductive styles and early ontogenies may have contributed to speciation of darters by allowing partitioning of breeding sites and food resources for young. In addition, reduced drift dispersal and small stream habitation may have indirectly contributed to speciation by reducing genetic exchange among populations.


Reproductive guilds Yolk supply Vitelline circulation First feeding Drift dispersal Restricted gene flow Speciation 


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Copyright information

© Dr W. Junk Publishers, The Hague 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael D. Paine
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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