Polar Biology

, Volume 41, Issue 9, pp 1707–1715 | Cite as

Diversification of feeding structures in three adult Antarctic nototheniid fish

  • Erica Carlig
  • Davide Di Blasi
  • Laura Ghigliotti
  • Eva Pisano
  • Marco Faimali
  • Richard O’Driscoll
  • Steve Parker
  • Marino Vacchi
Original Paper


During their evolution and speciation in the Antarctic waters, notothenioid fish occupied a variety of habitats and ecological niches. The diversification led to important variations in several morphological features related to particular aspects of their ecologies. We investigated the feeding structures and biomechanics of three phylogenetically related species (family Nototheniidae) with different ecologies: the bentho-pelagic Antarctic toothfish Dissostichus mawsoni, the pelagic Antarctic silverfish Pleuragramma antarctica, and the benthic emerald rockcod Trematomus bernacchii. The suction index (SI), the mechanical advantage in jaw closing (MA), and 14 morphological traits related to their feeding activity were analyzed. Significant differences among the species were found for all the parameters considered, supporting a high level of specialization.


Antarctic fishes Nototheniidae Ecomorphology Jaw mechanics Gill rakers Feeding strategy 



The study was supported by the Italian National Programme for Antarctic Research (PNRA) projects 2013/AZ1.18 (RAISE) and 2015/B1.02 (DISMAS), and contributes to the SCAR Scientific Research Program AnT-ERA (Antarctic Thresholds - Ecosystem Resilience and Adaptation). The New Zealand-Australian Antarctic Ecosystems voyage on Tangaroa was jointly funded by Antarctica New Zealand, Australian Antarctic Division, NIWA, and the New Zealand Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment. The voyage to collect D. mawsoni in the northern Ross Sea was funded by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries under contract ANT201501.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

The samplings of P. antarctica and D. mawsoni were carried out in accordance with permit AMLR14/04/Tangaroa/ZMFR and permit AMLR/15/01/Janas/ZMTW issued by the New Zealand government under the Antarctic Marine Living Resources (AMLR) Act 1981. The sampling of T. bernacchii was conducted in compliance with the ‘‘Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty’’, Annex II, Art. 3, to provide specimens for scientific activity, referring to the PNRA Research Project.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Research Council (CNR), Institute of Marine Sciences (ISMAR)GenoaItaly
  2. 2.National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research LimitedWellingtonNew Zealand

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