Skip directly to content

Minimize RSR Award Detail

Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Texas A&M AgriLife Research
  • Kevin W Conway
  • (979) 845-2620
Award Date:03/27/2013
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 282,466
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 282,466
  • FY 2013=$282,466
Start Date:04/01/2013
End Date:03/31/2019
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.074
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Federal Award ID Number:1256793
DUNS ID:847205713
Parent DUNS ID:042915991
Program:Physiolgcl Mechnsms&Biomechnsm
Program Officer:
  • Kathryn Dickson
  • (703) 292-7380

Awardee Location

Street:2147 TAMU
City:College Station
County:College Station
Awardee Cong. District:17

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Texas A&M University
Street:2258 TAMU
City:College Station
County:College Station
Cong. District:17

Abstract at Time of Award

This research will combine the skills of a comparative physiologist, an engineer, and a systematist to unravel the performance, design principals, and evolution of the sucker disk that allows some fishes to cling to rocks. These fishes, called clingfish, adhere to fouled, irregular substrates in pounding surf and while launching feeding attacks to pry limpets from the rocks. The work will involve a field component to measure the irregularity of substrates in the field, a pure modeling component that seeks to understand the effects of disk shape and material properties on suction, and a phylogenetic survey component. In the survey the suction abilities of clingfishes from all over the world will be quantified and the relationships among clingfish species will be determined using phylogenetic methods. The shape and underlying structure of the disk will also be investigated. The results of these studies will be deposited in several public databases, including Genbank, Tree of Life, and a custom database for morphological data such as CT scans. Other broader impacts of the grant include the development of biomimetic suction systems that could be used in surgical or robotic settings, development of tools for modeling soft matter interactions, education and outreach at the K12 and undergraduate level, and support of graduate education.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

Kleinteich, T., K.W. Conway, S.N. Gorb & A.P. Summers "What?s inside a fishy suction cup?" Microscopy and Analysis, v.136, 2015, p.S8.

Conway, Kevin W. and Moore, Glenn I. and Summers, Adam P. "A new genus and two new species of miniature clingfishes from temperate southern Australia (Teleostei, Gobiesocidae)" ZooKeys, v.864, 2019, p.. doi:10.3897/zookeys.864.34521 Citation details  

Conway, Kevin W. and Stewart, Andrew L. and Summers, Adam P. "A new genus and species of clingfish from the Rangit?hua Kermadec Islands of New Zealand (Teleostei, Gobiesocidae)" ZooKeys, v.786, 2018, p.. doi:10.3897/zookeys.786.28539 Citation details  

Conway, K.W., A.L. Stewart & A.P. Summers. "A new species of sea urchin associated clingfish of the genus Dellichthys (Teleostei: Gobiesocidae)." ZooKeys, v.740, 2018, p.77?95.. doi:doi: 10.3897/zookeys.740.22712 

Conway, K.W., A.L. Stewart & A.P. Summers "A new genus and species of clingfish from the Kermadec Islands of New Zealand (Teleostei: Gobiesocidae)." ZooKeys, v.786, 2018, p.75. 

Hastings, P.A. & K.W. Conway "Gobiesox lanceolatus, a new species of clingfish (Teleostei: Gobiesocidae) from the Los Frailes submarine canyon, Gulf of California, Mexico" Zootaxa, v.4221, 2017, p.393. doi: 

Conway, K.W., D.M. Kim, L. Rüber, H. Espinosa-Perez & P.A. Hastings. "Molecular phylogenetics of the New World clingfish genus Gobiesox (Teleostei: Gobiesocidae) and the origin of a freshwater clade." Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, v.112, 2017, p.138?147. doi: 

Conway, K.W., C.C.Baldwin & M.D.White. "Cryptic diversity and venom glands in the western Atlantic clingfishes of the genus Acyrtus (Teleostei: Gobiesocidae)." PLoS ONE, v.9, 2014, p.e97664. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097664 

Conway, K.W., N. G. Bertrand, Z. Browning, T. Lancon & F. J. Club Jr. "Heterodonty in the New World: an SEM investigation of oral jaw dentition in the clingfishes of the subfamily Gobiesocinae (Teleostei: Gobiesocidae)." Copeia, v.2015, 2015, p.973.

Conway, K.W., A. Stewart & C.D. King. "A new species of the clingfish genus Trachelochismus (Teleostei: Gobiesocidae) from bays and estuaries of New Zealand." ZOOTAXA, v.4319, 2017, p.531?549.. doi: 

Conway, K.W., G.I. Moore & A.P. Summers. "Nettorhamphos radula, new genus and species of clingfish (Teleostei: Gobiesocidae) from Western Australia" Copeia, v.105, 2017, p.. doi: 

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

Members of the Gobiesocidae (clingfishes) are predominantly small, benthic marine fishes, distributed globally in shallow coastal areas from the intertidal to ~500 meters depth. A small number inhabit freshwater streams in the Caribbean and tropical Central/South America. Clingfishes are famous for a unique ventral adhesive disc (formed from the paired fins) which allows them to adhere to a variety of substrates. The goal of this project was to investigate the evolutionary relationships of clingfishes to better understand the distribution of the group (biogeography) and the morphological diversity and evolution of the disc (character evolution). Field work was conducted in five countries (4 international) resulting in the discovery of 9 new species and 3 new genera of clingfishes. Detailed morphological work resulted in the discovery of a novel, potentially toxin producing gland associated with a sharp subopercular spine in certain Caribbean clingfishes. This is the first record of a gland (potentially toxin producing) in association with the subopercle bone in fishes. Phylogenetic investigation revealed that clingfishes have invaded freshwater only once throughout the evolutionary history of the group and that the current classification for the group is in need of major revision. The results of this research were published in ten scientific publications. In addition, ~300 novel DNA sequences were generated and ~500 high quality museum voucher specimens resulting from field work in five countries have been deposited at the Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections at Texas A&M University. Seven graduate students were invovled in project activities (including field work, laboratory work and data analysis). Over 30 undergraduate students were involved in fieldwork in the Caribbean (Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago) and conducted independent research projects on clingfishes as part of the Texas A&M Caribbean Tropical and Field Biology Study Abroad Program, 

Last Modified: 09/12/2019
Modified by: Kevin W Conway

For specific questions or comments about this information including the NSF Project Outcomes Report, contact us.