Responses to light in two blind cave fishes (Amblyopsis spelaea and Typhlichthys subterraneus) (Pisces: Amblyopsidae)

Steven M. Green, Aldemaro Romero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Explanations for the phenotypical features resulting from colonization of subterranean environments have always been a source of controversy. Although a great number of cave organisms are blind, they nevertheless display responses to light. The interpretation of this phototactic responsiveness in cave-dwelling animals may provide clues on the general issue of evolution of behavior in parallel with specialized structures. We studied the phototactic responses in two amblyopsid fishes of North America and found responses to light only in the species reported to have a functional pineal organ. Our findings are consistent with the hypotheses that (1) adaptation to the cave environment is a gradual process and (2) responsiveness to light in cave fishes may best be understood as a relict character, one that exists in an environment where it may never be expressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-174
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Biology of Fishes
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997


  • Biospeleology
  • Evolution of cave organisms
  • Fish behavior
  • Phototactic responses
  • Troglobite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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