Marine Biology

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 83–91 | Cite as

Terrestrial life of the amphibious fish Mnierpes macrocephalus

  • J. B. Graham


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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Curio, E.: Some observations on the “four-eyed” blenny of the Galápagos Islands, Dialommus fuscus (Pisces: Clinidae). Notic. Galápagos 12, 13–17 (1968).Google Scholar
  2. Doudoroff, P.: The resistance and acclimatization of marine fishes to temperature changes. I. Experiments with Girella nigricans (Ayres). Biol. Bull. mar. biol. Lab., Woods Hole 83, 219–244 (1942).Google Scholar
  3. Ebeling, A. W., P. Bernal and A. Zuleta: Emersion of the amphibious Chilean clingfish, Sicyases sanguineus. Biol. Bull. mar. biol. Lab., Woods Hole 139, 115–137 (1970).Google Scholar
  4. Fry, F. E. J.: The aquatic respiration of fish. In: The physiology of fishes Vol. I. pp 1–63. Ed. by M. E. Brown. New York: Academic Press 1957.Google Scholar
  5. Garey, W. F.: Cardiac responses of fishes in asphyxic environments. Biol. Bull. mar. biol. Lab., Woods Hole 122, 363–368 (1962).Google Scholar
  6. Giese, A. C.: Cell physiology, 592 pp. Philadelphia: Saunders 1962.Google Scholar
  7. Gordon, M. S., I. Boëtius, D. H. Evans, R. McCarthy and L. C. Oglesby: Aspects of the physiology of terrestrial life in amphibious fishes. I. The mudskipper, Periophthalmus sobrinus. J. exp. Biol. 50, 141–149 (1969).Google Scholar
  8. —, J. Boëtius, D. H. Evans and L. C. Oglesby: Additional observations on the natural history of the mudskipper, Periophthalmus sobrinus. Copeia 1968, 853–857 (1968).Google Scholar
  9. —, S. Fischer and E. Tarifeño S.: Aspects of the physiology of terrestrial life in amphibious fishes. IL. The Chilean cling-fish, Sicyases sanguineus. J. exp. Biol. 53, 559–572 (1970).Google Scholar
  10. Graham, J. B.: Preliminary studies on the biology of the amphibious clinid Mnierpes macrocephalus. Mar. Biol. 5, 136–140 (1970a).Google Scholar
  11. —: Temperature sensitivity of two species of intertidal fishes. Copeia 1970, 49–56 (1970b).Google Scholar
  12. —: Aerial vision in amphibious fishes. Fauna Rancho Mirage, Calif. U.S.A. 3, 14–23 (1971a).Google Scholar
  13. —: Temperature tolerances of some closely related tropical Atlantic and Pacific fish species. Science, N.Y. 172, 861–863 (1971b).Google Scholar
  14. — Low-temperature acclimation and the seasonal temperature sensitivity of some tropical marine fishes. Physiol. Zoöl. 45, 1–13 (1972).Google Scholar
  15. — and R. H. Rosenblatt: Aerial vision: unique adaptation in an intertidal fish. Science, N.Y. 168, 586–588 (1970).Google Scholar
  16. Gray, I. E.: Comparative study of the gill area of marine fishes. Biol. Bull. mar. biol. Lab., Woods Hole 107, 219–225 (1954).Google Scholar
  17. Hubbs, C.: A contribution to the classification of the blennoid fishes of the family Clinidae with a partial revision of the eastern Pacific forms. Stanford ichthyol. Bull. 4, 41–165 (1952).Google Scholar
  18. Hughes, G. M.: The dimensions of fish gills in relation to their function. J. exp. Biol. 45, 177–195 (1966).Google Scholar
  19. — Morphometrics of fish gills. Respir. Physiol. 14, 1–25 (1972).Google Scholar
  20. Johansen, K.: Air breathing in fishes. In: Fish physiology, Vol. IV. pp 361–411. Ed. by W. S. Hoar and D. J. Randall. New York: Academic Press 1970.Google Scholar
  21. Lowe, C. H. Jr. and V. J. Vance: Acclimation of the critical thermal maximum of the reptile Urosaurus ornatus. Science, N.Y. 122, 73–75 (1955).Google Scholar
  22. Milton, P.: Oxygen consumption and osmoregulation in the shanny, Blennius pholis. J. mar. biol. Ass. U.K. 51, 247–265 (1971).Google Scholar
  23. Muir, B. S. and G. M. Hughes: Gill dimensions for three species of tunny. J. exp. Biol. 51, 271–285 (1969).Google Scholar
  24. Rao, H. S. and S. L. Hora: On the ecology, bionomics and systematics of the blennid fishes of the genus Andamia Blyth. Rec. Indian Mus. 40, 377–401 (1938).Google Scholar
  25. Soljan, T.: Blennius galerita L., poisson amphibien des zones supralittorale et littorale exposées de l'Adriatique. Acta adriat. 2, 1–14 (1932).Google Scholar
  26. Stebbins, R. C. and M. Kalk: Observations on the natural history of the mudskipper Periophthalmus sobrinus. Copeia 1961, 18–27 (1961).Google Scholar
  27. Tate, M. W. and R. C. Clelland: Nonparametric and shortcut statistics, 171 pp. Danville, Illinois: Interstate Publishers Inc. 1957.Google Scholar
  28. Teal, J. M. and F. G. Carey: Skin respiration and oxygen debt in the mudskipper Periophthalmus sobrinus. Copeia 1967, 677–679 (1967).Google Scholar
  29. Zander, C. D.: Beiträge zur Ökologie und Biologie litoral-bewohnender Salariidae und Gobiidae (Pisces) aus dem Roten Meer. “Meteor” ForschErgebn. (D) 2, 69–84 (1967).Google Scholar
  30. —: Beziehungen zwischen Körperbau und Lebensweise bei Blenniidae (Pisces) aus dem Roten Meer. Äußere Morphologie. Mar. Biol. 13, 238–246 (1972).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1973

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations