Antarctic Science

Biological Sciences

Biology of the Antarctic dragonfish Vomeridens infuscipinnis (Notothenioidei: Bathydraconidae)

Kristen L. Kuhna1, Thomas J. Neara1, H. William Detrich IIIa2 and Joseph T. Eastmana3 c1

a1 Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8105, USA

a2 Department of Biology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA

a3 Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701-2979, USA


Nineteen specimens of the rare dragonfish Vomeridens infuscipinnis were evaluated for meristic counts, morphometric measurements, vomerine teeth and the supratemporal canal, anatomical and histological observations of bone, cartilage and lipid, diet, and reproductive status. Seven individuals were measured for buoyancy. All specimens had small vomerine teeth that varied in number. There was also variability in the arrangement of the supratemporal pores and canals. Vomeridens possess a body with little bone and considerable amounts of cartilage and lipid. A mean percentage buoyancy of 1.61% indicated that Vomeridens is nearly neutrally buoyant. Inferences from measurements of buoyancy and from morphological data suggest that Vomeridens lives in an epibenthic water column habitat at 400–900 m. Facilitated by its reduced body density, Vomeridens are likely to forage in the water column by hovering above the substrate. The stomach contents consisted of krill (Euphausia superba), some as large as 46–50 mm.The absolute and relative fecundity in seven female was 1576–2296 oocytes (mean 1889) and 21.3–28.9 oocytes g-1 body weight (mean 25.3), respectively. The reproductive effort in terms of egg diameter, GSI, and absolute and relative fecundity is similar to that for other bathydraconids.

(Received March 22 2010)

(Accepted July 06 2010)

(Online publication August 20 2010)


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