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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Organismic & Evolutionary Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



In order to ascertain the degree of compatibility in developmental restructuring and behavioral plasticity between two fish species frequently made subject of laboratory research (Metriaclima zebra & Danio rerio), alternative trophic niche exposure experiments utilizing novel three-prong feeding treatments were conducted to obtain morphometric data, which demonstrated both species do bear some degree of plasticity. The results are somewhat complicated by differences in locality of detectable restructuring, which may be due to disparity in the form-function relationship for each species’ lineage. Each is notable in the manner of respective species’ jaw protrusion, as it is driven by anterior kinethmoid rotation in D. rerio. as opposed to force imparted upon the rostral cartilage of the premaxilla’s articular process in M zebra. Each is markedly distinct in the pharyngeal jaw as well, as zebrafish (also toothless at the oral jaw) bear teeth only on the lower set at the posterior of the mouth, while cichlids bear teeth on all jaws and additionally possess a unique, fused lower pharyngeal jaw. However, accounting for this difference in experimental models does allow for direct comparison, both at the morphological/behavioral and potentially the genetic level, though additional research is necessary. The evidence provided here also provides encouragement that more nuanced approaches to laboratory trophic niche exposure experiments could elucidate further evidence on the nature of phenotypic plasticity.


First Advisor

R. Craig Albertson

Second Advisor

Madelaine Bartlett

Third Advisor

Stephen D. McCormick

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.