Apr 24, 2014

Function of a novel nasal protrusion for oral-shelling within an adaptive radiation of pupfishes

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Michael D MakowskyChristopher Herbert Martin


Dietary specialization on hard prey items, such as mollusks and crustaceans, is commonly observed in a diverse array of fish species. Many fish consume these types of prey by crushing the shell to consume the soft tissue within, but a few fishes extricate the soft tissue without breaking the shell using a method known as oral shelling. Oral shelling involves pulling a mollusk from its shell and may be a way to subvert an otherwise insurmountable shell defense. However, the biomechanical requirements and potential adaptations for oral shelling are unknown. Here, we test the hypothesis that a novel nasal protrusion is an adaptation for oral shelling in a durophagous pupfish (Cyprinodon brontotheroides). We first demonstrate oral shelling in this species and then predicted that a larger nasal protrusion would allow pupfish to consume larger snails. Durophagous pupfish are found within an endemic radiation of pupfish on San Salvador Island, Bahamas. We took advantage of closely related sympatric species and outgroups to test: 1) whether durophagous pupfish shell and consume more snails than other species, 2) if F1 and F2 durophagous hybrids consume similar amounts of snails as purebred durophagous pupfish, and 3) to determine if na...Continue Reading

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