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Mudskippers in The Gambia
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Gobiiformes
Family: Oxudercidae
Subfamily: Oxudercinae
Gunther 1861[1]

Mudskippers are a type of fish. They are part of a fish family known as the gobies.[2] They are amphibious fish: they can use their pectoral fins to "walk" on land.[3][4] They are adapted to intertidal habitats. These are places where the tide of the ocean comes in and out. Most fish that live in these habitats hide under wet seaweed or in tidal pools to stay moist or wet when the tide goes out.[5] Mudskippers are active when they are out of the water. They eat and interact with each other. They defend their territories.

Mudskippers are found in places that are tropical, subtropical and temperate. They live near the shores of in the Indo-Pacific and the Atlantic coast of Africa.

Adaptations[change | change source]

Periophthalmus gracilis, a type of mudskipper. It lives anywhere from Malaysia to North Australia.

Mudskippers are different from their relatives, the gobies, in many ways. Gobies live only in the sea, but mudskippers live both on land and in water. They have made many adaptations to live on the land. These include:

  • Anatomical (body) and behavioral adaptations let them move better on land and water.[4] These fish use their fins to move around in skips. This gives them their name, "mudskipper". They can also flip their strong body to jump up to 2 feet (60 cm) into the air.[6]
  • Mudskippers can breathe through their skin and the lining of their mouth (the mucosa) and throat (the pharynx). They can only do this when they are wet. This means mudskippers can only live in humid places.

This way of breathing is like how amphibians breathe. It is known as cutaneous air breathing.[5] Another important adaptation that helps breathing while out of the water are their enlarged gill chambers. They keep a bubble of air there. These large gill chambers close tightly when the fish is above water. This keeps the gills moist and lets them to function. They act like a scuba diver's cylinders. They give oxygen for breathing also while on land.[5]

  • They dig deep burrows in soft sediment, or the bottom of an ocean or lake. This lets the fish thermoregulate, or keep its body temperature the same.[7] They can also avoid ocean predators during the high tide when they burrow underwater.[8] They also lay their eggs in these burrows.[9]

Even when their burrow is underwater, mudskippers have an air pocket inside it. This lets them to breathe where there is little oxygen in the water.[10][11][12]

Species[change | change source]

The genus (a group of closely related species) Periophthalmus is by far the most diverse and widespread group of mudskipper. There are eighteen different types.[13][14][15] Periophthalmus argentilineatus is one of the most widespread and well known species. It can be found in mangrove ecosystems and mudflats of East Africa and Madagascar east through the Sundarbans of Bengal, South East Asia to northern Australia, southeast China and southern Japan, up to Samoa and Tonga Islands.[2] It grows to a length of about 9.5 cm and is a carnivorous opportunist feeder, which means it will eat anything it comes upon. It feeds on small prey such as small crabs and other arthropods.[16] Another species, Periophthalmus barbarus, is the only goby that lives in the coastal areas of western Africa.[2]

References[change | change source]

  1. Richard van der Laan; William N. Eschmeyer & Ronald Fricke (2014). "Family-group names of Recent fishes". Zootaxa. 3882 (2): 001–230. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3882.1.1. PMID 25543675.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Murdy E.O. (1989). "A Taxonomic Revision and Cladistic Analysis of the Oxudercine Gobies (Gobiidae: Oxudercinae)". Records of the Australian Museum. Suppl. N°11: 1–93.
  3. Swanson, B.O, and Gibb A.C. Kinematics of aquatic and terrestrial escape responses in mudskippers. Archived 2020-05-09 at the Wayback Machine The Journal of Experimental Biology. Vol. 207, 4037-4044. October 21, 2004. Accessed 2009-05-25.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Harris, V.A. (1960). "On the locomotion of the mudskipper Periophthalmus koelreuteri (Pallas): Gobiidae". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. 134: 107–135. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1960.tb05921.x.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Graham J.B., ed. (1997). Air–breathing Fishes. Evolution, diversity and adaptation. San Diego California: Academic Press.
  6. Piper, Ross 2007. Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals. Greenwood Press.
  7. Tytler P. & Vaughan T. (1983). "Thermal Ecology of the Mudskippers Periophthalmus koelreuteri (Pallas) and Boleophthalmus boddaerti (Pallas), of Kuwait Bay". Journal of Fish Biology. 23 (3): 327–337. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.1983.tb02912.x.
  8. Sasekumar A.; et al. (1994). Sudara S; Wilkinson C.R.; Chou L.M. (eds.). Proceedings, Third ASEAN-Australia Symposium on Living Coastal Resources. Research papers. Bangkok, Thailand: Chulalonghorn University. pp. Vol. 2: 457-464.
  9. Brillet C. (1969). "Etude du comportement constructeur des poissons amphibies Periophthalmidae". Terre et la Vie. 23 (4): 496–520.
  10. Ishimatsu A., Hishida Y., Takita T., Kanda T., Oikawa S., Takeda T. & Khoo K.H. (1998). "Mudskipper Store Air in Their Burrows". Nature. 391 (6664): 237–238. Bibcode:1998Natur.391..237I. doi:10.1038/34560. S2CID 4429394.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. Ishimatsu A., Takeda T., Kanda T., Oikawa S. & Khoo K.H. (2000). "Burrow environment of mudskippers in Malaysia". Journal of Bioscience. 11 (1, 2): 17–28.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. Lee H.J., Martinez C.A., Hertzberg K.J., Hamilton A.L. & Graham J.B. (2005). "Burrow air phase maintenance and respiration by the mudskipper Scartelaos histophorus (Gobiidae: Oxudercinae)". The Journal of Experimental Biology. 208 (Pt 1): 169–177. doi:10.1242/jeb.01361. PMID 15601887. S2CID 26606336.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. Larson H.K. & Takita T. (2004). "Two new species of Periophthalmus (Teleostei: Gobiidae: Oxudercinae) from northern Australia, and a re-diagnosis of Periophthalmus novaeguineaensis". The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory. 20: 175–185. doi:10.5962/p.286325. S2CID 131712323.
  14. Jaafar Z., Perrig M. & Chou L.M. (2009). "Periophthalmus variabilis (Teleostei: Gobiidae: Oxudercinae), a valid species of mudskipper, and a re-diagnosis of Periophthalmus novemradiatus". Zoological Science. 26 (4): 309–314. doi:10.2108/zsj.26.309. PMID 19798926. S2CID 31647216.
  15. Jaafar Z. & Larson H.L. (2008). "A new species of mudskipper, Periophthalmus takita (Teleostei: Gobiidae: Oxudercinae), from Australia, with a key to the genus". Zoological Science. 25 (9): 946–952. doi:10.2108/zsj.25.946. PMID 19267605. S2CID 10659541.
  16. Milward, N. E. (1974). Studies on the taxonomy, ecology and physiology of Queensland mudskippers (unpubl. Ph D. dissertation ed.). Univ. Of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

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