Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 433-444

First online:

The pharyngeal jaw apparatus of the Cichlidae and Pomacentridae: function in feeding and sound production

  • Aaron N. RiceAffiliated withBoston University Marine Program, Marine Biological LaboratoryDepartment of Zoology, Division of Fishes, Field Museum of Natural History
  • , Phillip S. LobelAffiliated withBoston University Marine Program, Marine Biological Laboratory

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Labroid fishes (PerciformesLabroidei) possess a highly developed pharyngeal jaw apparatus (PJA). A tremendous body of literature describes the anatomy and function in feeding in these fishes. For fishes of the families Pomacentridae and Cichlidae (damselfishes and cichlids), there are also numerous descriptions of the sounds these male fishes produce in reproductive or agonistic behavioral contexts. A growing amount of acoustic, behavioral, and physiological circumstantial evidence draws support for the PJA also being the sound producing mechanism. The present review discusses the evolutionary and ecological aspects of the PJA, the anatomy and function, as well as the acoustical biology of pomacentrids and cichlids. Using existing evidence, we propose and examine the possibility that the PJA (either muscles and/or bone) is used in this behavior. Should the PJA be involved in sound production, the duality in function for both feeding and sound production creates an interrelationship between trophic biology and sexual selection. Thus, particularly in cichlids, the expansion into available trophic niches, mediated by the food processing ability of the versatile PJA may influence female mate choices and serve as a substrate for sympatric speciation.

bioacoustics communication courtship Labroidei reproductive behavior sexual selection