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The mudskippers (subfamily Oxudercinae) are a group of 40 species in the Gobiidae family. They inhabit soft-bottomed tidal areas such as mangrove swamps and mudflats in tropical and subtropical Indo-west Pacific (East Africa, Madagascar through Southeast Asia and Northern Australia). There is also one species found in West Africa. Mudskippers have the ability to breathe both in air and water (bimodal respiration), through their skin (termed cutaneous air breathing) and using enlarged gill chambers, as long as their surfaces stay moist. They are able to move around effectively on muddy land by “skipping” and flicking themselves around with their pectoral fins, which are very much like tetrapod limbs. Burrowing is also important for mudskippers; they use their burrow for protection but also to thermoregulate, and it’s thought that the ability to protect their eggs from desiccation as well as storing air in a special chamber of the burrow has allowed mudskippers to colonize land habitats, especially those that often have anoxic conditions at high tide. Mudskippers have active and dramatic courtship displays, which involve color changes and flipping themselves high in the air to attract females. Males build the nests and guard the eggs that the females lay inside the burrow. While often abundant in their habitats, mudskippers are susceptible to ever-increasing pressure of human impacts on mudflat and mangrove ecosystems.

(Polgar 2010; Wikipedia 2012)


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