Marine Biology

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 83–91

Terrestrial life of the amphibious fish Mnierpes macrocephalus

  • J. B. Graham

DOI: 10.1007/BF00394114

Cite this article as:
Graham, J.B. Mar. Biol. (1973) 23: 83. doi:10.1007/BF00394114


The physiological adaptations for terrestrial life of the rockskipper Mnierpes macrocephalus (Günther) have been examined and compared with other amphibious species. The rockskipper lives on steep rocky shores in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, and makes brief terrestrial excursions for orientation, feeding, and to avoid wave action and predators. The rockskipper spends a large portion of its time, and can live perfectly well, submerged in water. The duration of this species' daytime terrestrial sojourns rarely exceeds 30 min. While on land, the rockskipper respires aerially, through its gills and skin, at the same rate it normally respires in water. When exposed to sunlight without water, the rockskipper's body temperature increases rapidly. A small amount of water, however, enables the rockskipper to remain cool, apparently by dissipating absorbed heat through evaporative cooling of the gills and skin. Evaporative water-loss from respiratory surfaces is a major factor limiting terrestrial excursions of the rockskipper.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. B. Graham
    • 1
  1. 1.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteBalboaPanamá