Identifier

etd-12222014-121513

Degree

Master of Natural Sciences (MNS)

Department

Biological Sciences

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

The objective of this thesis was not only to contribute to our understanding of batfishes but to also show interesting and educational ways research can be presented to the general public. The first part of this project examines the evolutionary history of batfishes. Batfishes (Ogcocephalidae) are an understudied, group of marine anglerfishes that are dorsoventrally flattened and have an illicium and esca used to attract prey. Relationships among these taxa, as well as the position of Ogcocephalidae within Lophiiformes, remain poorly understood, with previous studies showing conflicting, and poorly resolved results. The timing of divergence and depth of origination in the water column have also not been explored in any detail. In this study, a concatenated nuclear and mitochondrial dataset was constructed across several anglerfish families to elucidate phylogenetic relationships among all batfish genera, to clarify the placement of Ogcocephaloidei within Lophiiformes, and to estimate divergence times using fossil calibrations. An ancestral state reconstruction was also conducted to examine the history of shifts in preferred habitat depths within batfishes. Phylogenetic analyses supported monophyly of each sub-order within Lophiiformes, and placed Ogcocephaloidei as the sister group to Antennarioidei. Batfish genera were divided into an Eastern Pacific/Western Atlantic clade and an Indo-Pacific clade; Halieutaea was recovered as the sister group to all other batfishes. Based on divergence time estimations and ancestral state reconstructions, Ogcocephalidae is Eocene/Paleocene in age and likely originated on the lower continental shelf/upper continental slope. To bring elements of the batfish research into public outreach, I contributed to the LSU Museum of Natural Science’s stand alone fish exhibit book, “Making a Big Splash with Louisiana Fishes,” which aimed to complement the concepts discussed in the exhibit in an engaging way. In addition to the text included in the exhibit, the book also incorporates ten kids’ activities, a short story for kids, ABCs of Louisiana, and a short guide to Louisiana fishes. Museum exhibits are a great way to incorporate research into public outreach. They not only enrich the surrounding community, but also contribute to an overall understanding of the importance and nature of scientific research.

Date

2014

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Chakrabarty, Prosanta

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