Bachelor Project: August 2008 Archives

Ossification and behaviour, do they interact?


With calcein vital stains and using UV light, it is possible to see the skeleton of young fish very well, while they don't need to be anesthesised or x-rayed.


calcein.jpg(Photo Craig Albertson)

We have two systems in the lab where such observations can be very useful to help us answer research questions on interactions between morphology and behaviour:

- Annual killifish sometimes show cannibalism as fry. Very often the cannibals grow to much larger sizes than their non-cannibalising kin. Is cannibalism inducing morphological allometric changes in the head, such that cannibals start looking more like related piscivorous species?


- Scale-eating cichlids often have asymmetric beaks, pointing either to the left or to the right. That is supposed to make them more efficient when attacking prey to rip some scales off their flanks. Is this asymmetry present from early ossification? Or is it determined by behavioural preferences, such that young scale-eaters are still rather symmetric?


This is a project for a Bsc. or Msc. student. In collaboration with the technical workshop, the student will build a setup where behaviour of fry can be observed and photographs of the skeleton made. This setup will be tested and improved using fry of annual killifish, of which we have a steady weekly supply. Then an experiment using fry of scale-eating cichlids will be carried out.

Supervision is by Tom JM Van Dooren (


About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Bachelor Project category from August 2008.

Bachelor Project: April 2008 is the previous archive.

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