Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 62, Issue 1–3, pp 297–313 | Cite as

Milyeringa Veritas (Eleotridae), a remarkably versatile Cave Fish from the Arid Tropics of Northwestern Australia

  • William F. Humphreys

Abstract

The blind cave gudgeon Milyeringa veritas is restricted to groundwaters of Cape Range and Barrow Island, northwestern Australia. It occurs in freshwater caves and in seawater in anchialine systems. It is associated with the only other stygobitic cave vertebrate in Australia, the blind cave eel, Ophisternon candidum, the world's longest cave fish, and a diverse stygofauna comprising lineages with ‘tethyan’ tracks and widely disjunct distributions, often from North Atlantic caves. The cave gudgeon inhabits a karst wetland developed in Miocene limestones in an arid area. There is an almost complete lack of information on the basic biology of this cave fish, despite it being listed as threatened under the Western Australian Wildlife Conservation Act. Allozyme frequencies and distributions indicate significant population sub-structuring on the Cape Range peninsula such that the populations are essentially isolated genetically suggesting that more than one biological species is present. Further, they suggest that the vicariant events may have been associated with a series of eustatic low sealevels. Analysis of intestinal contents indicates that they are opportunistic feeders, preying on stygofauna and accidentals trapped in the water, at least at the sites sampled which were open to the surface, a conclusion supported by the results of stable isotope ratio analysis. The gudgeons are found in freshwater caves and throughout deep anchialine systems in which they occur in vertically stratified water columns in which there is a polymodal distribution of water chemistries (temperature, pH, salinity, dissolved oxygen, redox, dissolved inorganic nitrogen series, hydrogen sulphide).

stable isotope allozymes physico-chemical environment hydrogen sulphide anoxia food anchialine 

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • William F. Humphreys
    • 1
  1. 1.Terrestrial Invertebrate ZoologyWestern Australian MuseumPerthAustralia

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