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, 234 (3), 295-317

Viviparity in the Halfbeak Genera Dermogenys and Nomorhamphus (Teleostei: Hemiramphidae)


Viviparity in the Halfbeak Genera Dermogenys and Nomorhamphus (Teleostei: Hemiramphidae)

Amy Downing Meisner et al. J Morphol.


Gravid ovaries were examined histologically from two species of Nomorhamphus and 21 populations of Dermogenys. In addition, changes in dry-weight throughout gestation are provided for 15 populations. The ovaries are paired organs running along the lateral body wall and are separated along most of their length. In all specimens examined, embryos are fertilized within the ovarian follicle. Viviparity in these species is divided herein into five categories designated types I-V. In types I and II the entire gestation period is intrafollicular, whereas in types III-V only the early stages of gestation are intrafollicular with the major period of development occurring in the ovarian lumen (intraluminal). Type I is characterized by the retention of a large amount of yolk throughout gestation. Superfetation is not observed. Populations of D. pusilla from Vietnam and Thailand decrease in dry-weight throughout gestation. This, coupled with the slight vascularization of the yolk sac, suggests strict lecithotrophy. Populations of D. pusilla from Singapore and Bangladesh undergo an increase in dry weight and exhibit an increased vascularization of the yolk sac, suggesting a form of unspecialized matrotrophy. Type II is characterized by a small amount of yolk, an expansion of the coelomic cavity and pericardial sac, and a simple cuboidal epithelium on the general body surfaces. Superfetation occurs with up to three broods present within a single ovary. Dermogenys pusilla from Sabah, D. orientalis and Dermogenys sp. (Sulawesi) exhibit the type II form of viviparity. Dermogenys vivipara from the eastern Philippine islands of Culion and Busuanga exhibit characteristics considered intermediate between type I and II. These results are compared with those from other viviparous species exhibiting intrafollicular gestation. In species with types III-V (intraluminal gestation), developing oocytes are restricted to a distinct ridge of ovigerous tissue extending along the entire length of the ovary. Two species, D. viviparus (Luzon, Philippines) and Dermogenys sp. (Luzon) have the type III form of viviparity. In this form, oocytes are small (0.8-1.0 mm) with little yolk reserves and embryos, covered with a simple cuboidal epithelium and possessing an expanded belly sac, are retained within the follicles until a late fin-bud stage. Type III embryos found within the ovarian lumen have a greatly expanded belly sac and remain covered by a simple cuboidal epithelium until parturition. Superfetation is present in these species with two broods observed simultaneously within a single ovary. Five species, D. megarrhamphus, D. weberi, D. viviparus (Jolo, Philippines), Nomorhamphus sp. (Sulawesi), and N. towoetii, were observed with the type IV form of viviparity. Embryos in this category are evacuated into the ovarian lumen prior to a fin-bud stage and retain a large yolk mass throughout development. Superfetation is absent in these species. A differentform of viviparity (type V) is present in D. ebrardtii in which embryos appear to obtain nutrients through a form of oophagy and aldelphophagy (feeding on developing oocytes or less-developed siblings). In all specimens with intraluminal development, atretic oocytes within the ovigerous ridge are abundant. These findings support the hypothesis that current species and generic limits may be artificial and underscores the potential of histological evidence for phylogenetic analysis of this group. J. Morphol. 234:295-317, 1997. © 1997 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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