Guide to the identification of larval and early juvenile pricklebacks (Perciformes: Zoarcoidei: Stichaeidae) in the northeastern Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea

Ann C. Matarese, Deborah M. Blood, and Morgan S. Busby

Stichaeidae, commonly referred to as pricklebacks, are intertidal and subtidal fishes primarily of the North Pacific Ocean. Broad distribution in relatively inaccessible and undersampled habitats has contributed to a general lack of information about this family. In this study, descriptions of early life history stages are presented for 25 species representing 18 genera of stichaeid fishes from the northeastern Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea, and Arctic Ocean Basin. Six of these species also occur in the North Atlantic Ocean. Larval stages of 16 species are described for the first time. Additional information or illustrations intended to augment previous descriptions are provided for nine species. For most taxa, we present adult and larval distributions, descriptions of morphometric, meristic, and pigmentation characters, and species comparisons, and we provide illustrations for preflexion through postflexion or transformation stages. New counts of meristic features are reported for several species.

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