Scientific Correspondence | Published:

Mudskippers store air in their burrows


Mudskipper fishes can maintain their metabolism while they are confined in mudflat burrows filled with oxygen-depleted water, and their eggs, deposited in the burrows, can develop under severely hypoxic conditions1. How they cope with such conditions has been unclear. We report here that a mudskipper species Periophthalmodon schlosseri (Fig. 1) accumulates air in its burrows. This behaviour seems to be an adaptation to provide oxygen for burrow-dwelling fish and for embryos developing in the burrows.

The fish on the left has just emerged from the burrow and is gulping air.

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Figure 1: Periophthalmodon schlosseri resting in the surface water pool of a burrow.
Figure 2: Mudskipper burrow characteristics.


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