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Ontogeny of photophore pattern in the velvet belly lantern shark, Etmopterus spinax
Claes, J.M.; Mallefet, J. (2009). Ontogeny of photophore pattern in the velvet belly lantern shark, Etmopterus spinax. Zoology (Jena) 112(6): 433-441. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.zool.2009.02.003
In: Zoology (Jena). Fischer: Jena. ISSN 0944-2006, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 279069 [ OMA ]

Keywords
    Elasmobranchii [WoRMS]; Etmopteridae Fowler, 1934 [WoRMS]; Marine
Author keywords
    Elasmobranch; Etmopteridae; Bioluminescence; Luminous zones;Counter-illumination

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Abstract
    Bioluminescence is known to be of great ecological importance to a luminous organism but extremely few studies investigate the ontogeny of luminous capabilities. The photogenic pattern of the velvet belly lantern shark Etmopterus spinax was investigated over ontogeny (14.0–52.5 cm total length) to determine the scaling of the surface area and the photophore density of different luminous zones as well as the ecological consequences of ontogenetic variations in bioluminescence efficiency. According to the luminous zone considered, different scaling patterns were found for the surface areas while the photophore densities of all zones scale with negative allometry, even though photophore insertion occurs. No sexual differences in these relationships were found. Luminous zones can be placed in two morphologically different groups: the “coverage” and the “isolated” zones. While counter-illumination is certainly the function of the former, the latter are probably involved in intraspecific behaviours. Due to the discrepancy between luminous capabilities of these two luminous zone categories, there is an ontogenetic increase in the luminescence heterogeneity of the luminous pattern as it was shown by luminescence modelling and confirmed by direct observations of spontaneous luminescence in living sharks. This heterogeneity certainly represents a trade-off between an efficient ventral camouflage and a strong identification tool for intraspecific behaviours such as coordinate hunting, which would be particularly useful when E. spinax become fish eaters (>19 cm total length), and for sexual recognition in mature individuals.

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