Original Paper

Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 199, Issue 9, pp 735-749

First online:

The functional significance of lateral line canal morphology on the trunk of the marine teleost Xiphister atropurpureus (Stichaeidae)

  • Adrian KleinAffiliated withInstitute of Zoology, University of Bonn Email author 
  • , Heinrich MünzAffiliated withFakultät für Biologie II, Universität Bielefeld
  • , Horst BleckmannAffiliated withInstitute of Zoology, University of Bonn

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We investigated the filter properties of the highly branched trunk lateral lines of the stichaeid Xiphister atropurpureus and compared them to the filter properties of simple lateral line canals. For this purpose artificial canals were constructed, some of which were fitted with artificial neuromasts. In still water, the response of a simple canal versus two types of Xiphister-like canals to a vibrating sphere stimulus were similar, as was the decrease in the responses as a function of sphere distance. Also comparable was the mechanical coupling between neighboring parts of the main canal. However, compared to the simple canal, the Xiphister-like canals showed a lower spatial resolution. Equipping artificial lateral line canals with artificial neuromasts revealed that Xiphister-like canals, i.e., lateral lines canals with tubuli that contained widely spaced pores, improve the signal-to-noise ratio in a highly turbulent environment. Even though a reduced spatial resolution is the price for this improvement, Xiphister may compensate for this compromise by having four instead of the usual single trunk lateral line canal. We suggest that lateral line canals with tubuli that contain widely spaced pores and multiple lateral line canals on each body side are an adaptation to a highly turbulent aquatic environment.


Mechanoreception Signal Noise Biomimetic sensor Teleost