Date of Award

Fall 12-2010

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Committee Chair

Dr. Mark Peterson

Committee Chair Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Committee Member 2

Dr. Nancy Brown-Peterson

Committee Member 2 Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Committee Member 3

Dr. Bruce Comyns

Committee Member 3 Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Committee Member 4

Dr. Todd Slack

Abstract

Fundulus jenkinsi is recognized federally and within the state of Mississippi as a Species of Concern. Little is known about the life history of this coastal killifish, but a detailed reproductive histology study of F. jenkinsi and a diagnostic key of the early life stages of select members of Fundulidae can provide the foundation needed to accurately identify it and quantify reproductive parameters in this rare species in need of conservation. Monthly gonadosomatic index (GSI) of male and female F. jenkinsi were documented, and spawning phases and oocyte stages were examined using reproductive histology. In addition, various stages of coastal Fundulus spp. and Adinia xenica have been illustrated and their morphometrics and meristics recorded. While GSI indicated a F. jenkinsi spawning season from April through August, the ovarian histology suggested March through August was a more accurate season. The composition of the ovaries also suggested spawns occur multiple times in a single tidal cycle within a population and on the individual level. The diagnostic key reveals that branchiostegal rays are essential to separate young fundulids into two groups that can then be identified by pigment patterns and morphometrics. This work contributes an estimation of F. jenkinsi spawning frequency and an early development diagnostic key that allows for accurate identification of young fundulid species.

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