Patterns of scale formation (onset, points of origin, completion, and spatial pattern) were examined for six species of killifishes in two families (Cyprinodontidae: Cyprinodon variegatus, and Fundulidae: Fundulus confluentus, F. heteroclitus, F. luciae, F. majalis, and Lucania parva) to determine if the patterns are another useful indicator for the transition from the larval to juvenile periods. In some species, the patterns were very similar, with scale formation originating on/near the caudal peduncle, then the dorsal surface of the head (in fundulids only), and later on the lateral surfaces of the head, and on the ventral surface of the trunk at the level of the pectoral fin. The timing of scale formation, relative to fish size, was later than or overlapped with other morphological characters (e.g., fin ray formation, juvenile/adult body shape) often used to mark the larval/juvenile transition. The onset of scale formation, across all species, occurred between 8 and 13 mm TL. Completion of scale formation occurred between 18 and 23 mm TL. At completion, scales covered 86-99% of the trunk and head. Completion of scale formation in these fishes is one of the last external morphological changes to occur during the larval to juvenile transition. For these species, and other flatfishes we have examined in detail, it appears that scale formation may be useful in helping to define the end of the larval period and the beginning of the juvenile period. Further studies, of divergent groups of teleosts, are necessary to determine if this length-based approach has broad validity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Larval/juvenile transition