Document Type


Date of Original Version



Biological Sciences


An ontogenetic analysis of the olfactory organ and the number and distribution of internal taste buds was carried out in two neon gobies (Elacatinus lori and Elacatinus colini) with the goal of revealing morphological trends that might inform an understanding of the roles of olfaction and taste in larval orientation behaviour. The pattern of development of the olfactory organ is unremarkable and enclosure of the olfactory epithelium occurs concurrently with metamorphosis and settlement in both species. Like other gobies, juvenile and adult E. lori and E. colini lack complex olfactory lamellae, and lack the accessory nasal sacs present in some adult gobies that could facilitate active olfactory ventilation (i.e., sniffing). A small number of internal taste buds are present at hatch with most found in the caudal region of the buccal cavity (on gill arches, roof of buccal cavity). As taste bud number increases, they demonstrate an anterior spread to the lips, buccal valves and tongue (i.e., tissue covering the basihyal). In the absence of an active ventilatory mechanism for the olfactory organs, the water that moves through the buccal cavity with cyclic gill ventilation may provide chemical cues allowing the internal taste buds to play a role in chemical‐mediated orientation and reef‐seeking behavior in pelagic larval fishes.