A comparison of the electrosensory morphology of a euryhaline and a marine stingray Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The electrosensory system is found in all chondrichthyan fishes and is used for several biological functions, most notably prey detection. Variation in the physical parameters of a habitat type, i.e. water conductivity, may influence the morphology of the electrosensory system. Thus, the electrosensory systems of freshwater rays are considerably different from those of fully marine species; however, little research has so far examined the morphology and distribution of these systems in euryhaline elasmobranchs. The present study investigates and compares the morphology and distribution of electrosensory organs in two sympatric stingray species: the (euryhaline) estuary stingray, Dasyatis fluviorum, and the (marine) blue-spotted maskray, Neotrygon kuhlii. Both species possess a significantly higher number of ventral electrosensory pores than previously assessed elasmobranchs. This correlates with a diet consisting of benthic infaunal and epifaunal prey, where the electrosensory pore distribution patterns are likely to be a function of both ecology and phylogeny. The gross morphology of the electrosensory system in D. fluviorum is more similar to that of other marine elasmobranch species, rather than that of freshwater species. Both D. fluviorum and N. kuhlii possess 'macro-ampullae' with branching canals leading to several alveoli. The size of the pores and the length of the canals in D. fluviorum are smaller than in N. kuhlii, which is likely to be an adaptation to habitats with lower conductivity. This study indicates that the morphology of the electrosensory system in a euryhaline elasmobranch species seems very similar to that of their fully marine counterparts. However, some morphological differences are present between these two sympatric species, which are thought to be linked to their habitat type.

authors

  • Camilieri-Asch, Victoria
  • Kempster, Ryan M
  • Collin, Shaun P
  • Johnstone, Ron W
  • Theiss, Susan M

publication date

  • 2013