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Killifish

Ecological Importance

Maintaining species diversity in the nearshore, intertidal, and freshwater systems inhabited by the many kinds of killifish has become increasingly important as the twentieth century draws to a close. Because of their incredible ability to withstand a wide range of temperatures, salinities, and pollutants, especially organochloride pesticides and fertilizers, killifish seem to be among the most persistent species. In 1990, five species of killifish were the only fish remaining in Mullet Pond, North Carolina, which had 27 fish species present in 1903 and 1914. In the 1960s, the entire remaining population of the Owen's Valley pupfish (Cyprinodon radio-sus) was transferred in a few buckets by Fish and Wildlife agents, as their native pool drained away. Perhaps because of their widespread distribution and ability to adapt to whatever conditions exist, the killifish are among the most important fish species for monitoring the future of our environment.

Rosi Dagit

KEY TERMS

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Anaerobic

—Describes biological processes that take place in the absence of oxygen.

Brackish

—Water containing some salt, but not as salty as sea water.

Chromatophores

—Components of cells responsible for allowing color changes.

Endemic

—Refers to species with a relatively local distribution, sometimes occurring as small populations confined to a single place, such as an oceanic island. Endemic species are more vulnerable to extinction than are more widespread species.

Endocrinological

—Refers to the function of hormones in regulating body processes.

Euryhaline

—Waters that change salinity in response to tides or fresh water influx.

Lateral line

—A row of sensors found along the sides of fish.

Mitochondria

—An organ inside cells that releases energy.

Operculum

—The protective covering over the gills.

Osmoregulation

—The process regulating the water content of cells in relation to that of the surrounding environment.

Salinity

—The amount of dissolved salts in water.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Kabbalah Mysticism - Types Of Kabbalah to LarynxKillifish - Evolution And Taxonomy, Ecology, Biology, Economic Importance, Ecological Importance