Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Robert Hoyt, Larry Gleason, Gary Dillard, Rodney McCurry

Degree Program

Department of Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science


Observations were made on the appearance and development of anatomical features such as neural receptors (free neuromasts and taste buds), lateral line canals and bone elements of the mandibular and hyoid regions of the skull associated with the larval stages of the spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus) and northern hog sucker (Hypentelium nigricans). The results were related to known feeding habits and habitat selection.

Free neuromast development and appearance of the lateral line canal system in the spotted bass preceded that of the northern hog sucker. This accelerated development of the spotted bass was related to earlier activity in feeding, including piscivory, and presence among emergent shoreline vegetation. The northern hog sucker was more sedate in occupying quiet rock-outcrop shoreline areas. It was found to exhibit more diverse feeding habits.

Taste buds played a secondary role in early larval ecology being present throughout all developmental stages and showed little importance in early feeding compared to free neuromasts. The taste buds present on the hyoid region of the northern hog sucker indicated a future bottom feeding habit.

The teeth on the basihyal and jaw bones of the spotted bass larvae supported its early predaceous habit. The development of jaws in the northern hog sucker at the start of the mesolarval stage was the most important developmental feature relating to the onset of exogenous feeding.


Biology | Life Sciences | Marine Biology