Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Robert Hoyt, Gary Dillard, Blaine Ferrell

Degree Program

Department of Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science


This study was undertaken in order to identify the approximate times of recruitment of the senses of vision, mechanoreception and chemoreception into the feeding behavior of the fathead minnow, Pimephales promelas, during the first 15 days of life. Larvae were reared on diets of live or freshly killed brine shrimp nauplii and their feeding activity observed daily under light and dark conditions. On every third day during the feeding trials, the larvae were reverse-fed the type of food upon which they were reared. The first evidence of feeding occurred on Day 3, when larvae conditioned on dead food ingested live food in the dark. Larvae in all groups tested exhibited some degree of feeding on Day 4. Larvae tested under dark conditions exhibited maximum feeding capabilities earlier than their counterparts tested in the light. Larvae showed an earlier ability to locate and ingest live prey over dead prey in both light and dark conditions suggesting that the sense of mechanoreception was functional in the larvae at the time of commencement of feeding. Although the sense of vision is functional at or soon after hatching, there appeared to be a lack of coordination or integration between the eyes and the lateral line system. The sense of chemoreception appeared to be the last major sense to become fully functional. Locomotor activity increased with age under all test conditions in conjunction with the developing sense organs.


Biology | Life Sciences

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