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Fishes, Reptiles, and Amphibians. ENVIRON 311/EEB 320 Winter 2007. Fishes. Lepisosteus osseus : Longnose gar. Fish Anatomy. Fish Anatomy. Heterocercal tail Bony supports extend through top of caudal fin Caudal fin asymmetrical Homocercal tail Caudal fin symmetrical

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Fishes reptiles and amphibians

Fishes, Reptiles, and Amphibians


Winter 2007


Lepisosteus osseus: Longnose gar

Fish anatomy1
Fish Anatomy

  • Heterocercal tail

    • Bony supports extend through top of caudal fin

    • Caudal fin asymmetrical

  • Homocercal tail

    • Caudal fin symmetrical

    • No extension of spine through top of caudal fin

Family petromyzontidae
Family Petromyzontidae

  • Lampreys

  • Lack jaws, as well as paired fins, scales, and gill covers

  • Body is elongate

  • Has unique larval stage, called the ammocoete stage

    • These lack fully functional eyes and mouthparts; feed on detritus and drift

  • Adults may be parasites, predators or non-feeders

    • Parasitic kinds use teeth on sucking disk to rasp feeding holes in fish


Add some jaws, paired fins, and opercula (gill covers)…

Family lepisosteidae
Family Lepisosteidae

  • Gars

  • Long, thin body with heterocercal tail

  • Ganoid scales are armorlike

  • Long, fixed jaws and sharp teeth

  • Can breathe air directly

  • Usually an ambush predator

  • Prefers large bodies of water, esp. where weedy areas exist

Family amiidae
Family Amiidae

  • Bowfin or Dogfish

  • Another very primitive fish with a hetero-cercal tail and the ability to breathe air

  • However, upper jaw (maxilla) is now more mobile

  • Often confused w/ snakehead, an invasive species

    • Bowfin has a shorter anal fin, heterocercal tail, and a gular plate (hard plate on throat)

  • A large, powerful ambush predator—occupies mainly weedy spots


Turn the primitive heterocercal tail into a homocercal tail and…

Family salmonidae
Family Salmonidae

  • Trout, Salmon, and Ciscoes

  • Single soft dorsal fin with fleshy adipose fin and small scales

  • Medium to large freshwater fishes—very important to sport and commercial anglers

  • High O2 demand—needs cold water (e.g. ground-water streams and deep oligotrophic lakes)

  • Most are predatory, first on invertebrates and then on other fish

  • Some are migratory

Family umbridae
Family Umbridae

  • Mudminnows

  • Soft dorsal fin placed far back on body

  • Rounded caudal fin

  • Small, hardy fish with ability to survive under low DO; found in a wide variety of habitats

  • Preys mainly on invertebrates

  • Very closely related to pikes, which it resembles

Family esocidae
Family Esocidae

  • Pikes and pickerels

  • Soft dorsal fin place far back on body, roughly even with anal fin

  • Caudal fin is slightly forked

  • Snout is duck-billed in appearance

  • Voracious ambush predators of streams, lakes, and many wetlands

    • Feed primarily on other fish, including their own kind

Family cyprinidae
Family Cyprinidae

  • Minnows

  • Simple looking with single soft dorsal fin

  • Mouth ranges from subterminal to upturned

  • Usually without complex patterning but occasionally colorful

  • Very large and diverse family

  • Includes shiners, carps, and goldfish (the latter two are invasive exotics)

  • Wide variety of feeding strategies—some are filter feeders, others predators

Asian carp getting closer
Asian Carp…getting closer

  • bighead and silver

  • imported by catfish farmers to remove algae and suspended matter out of their ponds

  • Jump out of water and can injure boaters

  • Separated from Lake MI by an electric barrier

Family catostomidae
Family Catostomidae

  • Suckers and redhorses

  • Look like cyprinids but have ventral mouth (suckerlike) with thick lips

  • Redhorses may be colorful and grow quite large

  • Benthic—sift through sediments for invertebrates and sometimes algae

Family ictaluridae
Family Ictaluridae

  • Catfishes

  • Barbels, adipose fin and single spines in both the pectoral and dorsal fin characterize family

  • Are without scales

  • Many are benthic

  • Size ranges from tiny to enormous

  • Extra taste buds on body allow catfish to locate food where light levels are low


  • Add spines to dorsal and anal fin

  • Bring the pelvic fins closer to the pectoral fins

Family percidae
Family Percidae

  • Perches, darters, and walleyes

  • Two dorsal fins: one spiny and one soft

  • Anal fin with 1-2 spines

  • Opercular spines

  • Darters are generally small and are primarily benthic

  • Others are good swimmers, voracious predators (first of inverts, then fish) and medium-sized

Family centrarchidae
Family Centrarchidae

  • Sunfishes and tropical basses

  • Two dorsal fins, usually connected

  • Anal fin with 3 or more spines

  • Includes many sport fishes

  • Small to medium predators of inverts and other fish

Family cottidae
Family Cottidae

  • Sculpins

  • Two dorsal fins

  • Tend to be dorso-ventrally flattened, with large head and dorsal eyes

  • Possess pre-opercular spines

  • Prefer cool to cold water—often associated with (and eaten by) trout

  • Prey mainly on inverts

Family gasterosteidae
Family Gasterosteidae

  • Sticklebacks

  • Easily identified by spiny “finlets” on first dorsal fin

  • Caudal peduncle extremely thin

  • No scales

  • Found mainly in quieter waters—consume invertebrates

Class amphibia
Class Amphibia

  • Amphibians

  • Name implies two life stages: larval and adult

  • Many live in or near water for much of their life cycle

  • Respiration may be accomplished through lungs, gills or simple diffusion through the skin, depending on species and life stage

  • Skin is generally moist, not covered with scales

  • Generally sensitive to human impacts on water quality

Order caudata
Order Caudata

  • Salamanders

  • Two to four legs and a long tail—no claws

  • Two-thirds of world’s species live in Americas

  • Some species retain larval characteristics throughout life (e.g. external gills)

  • Some species estivate during periods of drought,

Order anura
Order Anura

  • Frogs and Toads

  • Most have a familiar tadpole larval stage that develops in water

    • Larval stage may last anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of years

    • Feeds on algae, detritus, inverts

  • Adult stage has four legs and is typically terrestrial or semi-aquatic

    • Feeds mainly on invertebrates

    • Some may eat other frogs or snakes

Family bufonidae bufo americanus
Family BufonidaeBufo americanus

  • American toad

  • Warty skin and short legs for hopping (characteristic of toads)

  • Adult occupies all kinds of terrestrial habitats, returns to water (often ephemeral) to breed

  • Tadpole is dark, has rounded tail with little pigment around the edges

Family hylidae
Family Hylidae

  • Treefrogs

  • Slender, long limbs and digits

  • Usually small

  • May be somewhat arboreal

Family hylidae hyla versicolor chrysocelis
Family HylidaeHyla versicolor/chrysocelis

  • Gray treefrog

  • Has adhesive pads on long toes, adapted to climbing

  • Adults warty with bright coloration under legs

  • Usually stay close to swampy areas

  • Tadpoles strongly patterned—may also be tinged with color

Family hylidae pseudacris crucifer
Family HylidaePseudacris crucifer

  • Spring peeper

  • Very tiny—more likely to be heard than seen

    • If seen, can be identified by ‘x’ on back

  • Adults are somewhat arboreal, preferring swampy areas

  • Tadpoles tiny, with lightly mottled tails

Family ranidae
Family Ranidae

  • True frogs

  • Skin fairly smooth with well-developed legs for leaping

  • Front toes lack adhesive pads and webbing; rear toes are webbed

Family ranidae rana catesbeiana
Family RanidaeRana catesbeiana

  • Bullfrog

  • Adults are large, with no dorsolateral ridges and usually little patterning on body

  • Voice is deep croak

  • Spend much of life in or very close to water

  • Tadpoles are large; may take two seasons to mature

Family ranidae rana pipiens
Family RanidaeRana pipiens

  • Leopard frog

  • Adult has dorsolateral ridges and dark, round spots on back

  • Voice is snore-like

  • Found in wide variety of wetlands; sometimes wanders into dry meadows

  • Tadpole mottled throughout

Family ranidae rana sylvatica
Family RanidaeRana sylvatica

  • Wood frog

  • Adult easily identified by dark mask across face

  • Voice sounds like clucking

  • Prefers wooded bottomlands

  • Usually breeds early; sometimes before ice is off of lakes

  • Tadpole develops quickly; has high, relatively unmarked dorsal fin

Class reptilia
Class Reptilia

  • Reptiles

  • Have scales (few exceptions) and clawed toes (if they have toes)

  • Young resemble adults

Order squamata suborder serpentes
Order SquamataSuborder Serpentes

  • Family Colubridae: Water snakes

  • Nerodia sipedon sipedon, the northern water snake is only member in MI

  • Is not venomous, but is persecuted by many because of this perception

  • Common in/near rivers, swamps, bogs, etc.

Order testudines
Order Testudines

  • Turtles

  • Characterized by carapace and four clawed legs

  • Underbelly called plastron—may be variously jointed

  • Some are exclusively aquatic—others are terrestrial

Family chelydridae chelydra serpentina
Family ChelydridaeChelydra serpentina

  • Snapping turtle

  • Large, heavily armored turtle

  • Three-keeled carapace

  • Spends much of time submerged—rarely basks

  • In water, eats almost anything

  • Out of water, will try to bite almost anything, even cars

Family emydidae graptemys geographica
Family EmydidaeGraptemys geographica

  • Map turtle

  • Single keel on carapace

  • Yellow spot behind eye

  • “Map” pattern on dorsum

  • Prefers large bodies of water

  • Good swimmer—will eat fish—but also likes to bask on logs

Family emydidae chrysemys picta marginata
Family EmydidaeChrysemys picta marginata

  • Midland painted turtle

  • Carapace shallow keel (in females)

  • Marked with reds and oranges on sides and plastron

  • Prefers shallow, weedy spots

  • Omnivorous

Family trionychidae apolone spinifera spinifera
Family TrionychidaeApolone spinifera spinifera

  • Eastern spiny softshell

  • Carapace is soft and pliable—has chocolate-chip pattern

  • Head is small with long snout for snorkeling

  • Mainly a turtle of large rivers

    • Spends lots of time swimming

    • Sometimes basks on logs or rocks, but always where water is close by

  • Largely predatory on fish and inverts