Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 199, Issue 9, pp 735–749 | Cite as

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

Original Paper


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 



Artificial lateral line canal


Artificial neuromast


Canal neuromast


Lateral line canal


Peak to peak


Superficial neuromast


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of ZoologyUniversity of BonnBonnGermany
  2. 2.Fakultät für Biologie IIUniversität BielefeldBielefeldGermany

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