A REVIEW OF THE CRYPTIC COLORATIONS OF CORAL REEF FISHES

A REVIEW OF THE CRYPTIC COLORATIONS OF CORAL REEF FISHES -...

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A REVIEW OF THE CRYPTIC COLORATIONS OF CORAL REEF FISHES N OOR B ECKWITH FRSEMR 21q: Biological Impostors Professor: Michael Canfield March 2008 Coral reefs are among the most diverse marine habitats in the world; many of the fish families represented in reef systems may have ten-fold greater species counts there than they do in any other habitat in the world (Allen and Swainston, 1993). This incredible diversity is supported by the reef structures themselves, comprised of coral polyps and algae working together to harness sunlight and build complex and colorful bodies, bodies that provide a multitude of habitats for other creatures (Burnie and Wilson, 2001). Within these reefs, fishes are the charismatic fauna, dominating the visual seascape not only because they are speciose, but also because they are often brilliantly and stridently colored. Looking at the general icthyofauna of a given reef, one will immediately notice the many peculiar stripes and splotches that characterize such dominant groups such as the butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae) and wrasses (Labridae) (Allen and Swainston, 1993). This chromatic radiation strongly suggests adaptive significance, most likely in the cryptic realm (Longley 1917). The scope of this paper shall be to enumerate some of the classes of coloration in reef fishes and discuss the possible adaptive explanations. One of the most general and widespread color patterns in reef fish, and fish in general, is countershading, whereby organisms feature their darkest coloration on the surface that faces the
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course BIO 21q taught by Professor Canfield during the Spring '08 term at Harvard.

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A REVIEW OF THE CRYPTIC COLORATIONS OF CORAL REEF FISHES -...

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