Keiffer Williams

MS Student Conservation Sciences

I am interested in the trophic morphology of fishes. The combtooth blennies (family: Blenniidae) are an excellent group of fishes to study trophic morphology, as numerous lineages in this family have functional teeth that develop away from the oral jaws and are attached via loose connective tissue that extends beyond the margins of the jaw bones. This fascinating method of tooth development and attachment is not found in any other group of fishes and has yet to be described beyond classic morphological descriptions.

Using Bell Museum specimens of the pacific leaping blenny (Alticus arnoldorum), my research uses a combination of morphological techniques including histology, clearing and staining and micro-CT scans to establish a descriptive model of tooth replacement for A. arnoldorum. Describing this unique mode of tooth replacement and attachment will allow us to propose novel hypotheses of tooth function in blennies, an important step in furthering our understanding of how trophic morphology has evolved across fishes.

Keiffer cutting the spines off an invasive lionfish in Curaçao