Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 13-41

First online:

It's a Wonderful Hypogean Life: A Guide to the Troglomorphic Fishes of the World

  • Aldemaro RomeroAffiliated withEnvironmental Studies Program and Department of Biology, Macalester College
  • , Kelly M. PaulsonAffiliated withEnvironmental Studies Program and Department of Biology, Macalester College

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There are at least 86 species of troglomorphic fishes belonging to 18 families. Some of those families are characterized by features that can be labeled as preadaptations to the hypogean life; others are not. The level of structural reduction in eye development and pigmentation is highly variable, even within some populations. Reduction in number and complexity of scales does occur but has yet to be fully documented. Reduction in the size and structure of the swim(gas)bladder may be another troglomorphic feature. There is considerable doubt on the taxonomic position of many species of troglomorphic fishes given that a number of them have been described solely on the basis of morphology while genetically they may be very closely correlated to genera different from those they have been assigned to. Geographically speaking there are no evident patterns since many of those species are not found in karstic areas but in phreatic waters. These fishes represent an excellent example of convergent evolution.

hypogean fishes biodiversity systematics taxonomy geographical distribution convergent evolution