First Advisor

Randy Zelick

Date of Publication

Fall 1-12-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Biology






Lateral line organs, Intertidal fishes, Fishes -- Sense organs



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 61 pages)


The lateral line canal system is a sensory organ found in all teleost fish that has a wide range of morphological variation. Variation in morphology may often be the result of evolutionary necessity where the need for function dictates form. Xiphister mucosus is an amphibious Stichaeid fish that inhabits the rocky intertidal zone of the northeastern Pacific Ocean. The rocky intertidal is considered an extreme environment where crashing waves and ebbing tides may require the specialization of adaptations for surviving the many abiotic stressors encountered there.

The lateral line trunk canal of Xiphister is regarded as unique among teleosts with multiple, branching, zigzag shaped canals that are morphologically complex. The X. mucosus canal was found to not serve as a mechanosensory organ, rather the findings presented here suggest a new role as a water transport organ. This may be an exaptation to help X. mucosus avoid desiccation during low tides when the fish remain upon the rocky shore and exposed to dehydration.

While emersed, Xiphister relies on cutaneous respiration as its primary means of aerial respiration.


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