|Three-spined stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus|
The Gasterosteidae are a family of fish including the sticklebacks. FishBase recognises sixteen species in the family, grouped in five genera. However several of the species have a number of recognised subspecies, and the taxonomy of the family is thought to be in need of revision. Although some authorities give the common name of the family as "sticklebacks and tube-snouts", the tube-snouts are classified in the related family Aulorhynchidae.
Sticklebacks are most commonly found in the ocean, but some can be found in freshwater. The freshwater taxa were trapped in freshwater in Europe, Asia and North America after the ice age, and have evolved different features from the ocean variety. Sticklebacks are carnivorous, feeding on small animals such as insects, crustaceans and fish larvae.
Sticklebacks are characterised by the presence of strong and clearly isolated spines in the dorsal fin. Their maximum length is about 4 inches, but few of them are more than 3 inches long. They mature sexually at a length of about 2 inches. All species show a similar mating behaviour, which is also unusual among fish. The males construct a nest from vegetation held together by secretions from their kidneys. The males then attract females to the nest. The female will lay their eggs inside the nest where the male can fertilise them. The male then guards the eggs until they hatch.
The family includes the three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus, common in northern temperate climates around the world including Europe, most of northern North America and Japan and colloquially known in the United Kingdom as the "tiddler", or "sprick". Niko Tinbergen's studies of the behaviour of this fish were important in the early development of ethology as an example of a fixed action pattern. More recently, the fish have become a favorite system for studying the molecular genetics of evolutionary change in wild populations and a powerful "supermodel" for combining evolutionary studies at molecular, developmental, population genetic, and ecological levels. The nearly complete genome sequence of a reference freshwater stickleback was described in 2012, along with set of genetic variants commonly found in 21 marine and freshwater populations around the world. Some variants, and several chromosome inversions, consistently distinguish marine and freshwater populations, helping identify a genome-wide set of changes contributing to repeated adaptation of sticklebacks to marine and freshwater environments. 
- The Repeater - NYTimes.com
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- Kingsley, D.M. and Peichel, C.L. (2007) The molecular genetics of evolutionary change in sticklebacks. in Biology of the three-spinestickleback. Ostlund-Nillson, S., Mayer, I. and Huntingford, F.A.(eds). CRC Press. pp. 41-81
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- "The genomic basis of adaptive evolution in threespine sticklebacks.". Nature.com. 2012-04-04.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). "Gasterosteidae" in FishBase. October 2012 version.
- Widespread Parallel Evolution in Sticklebacks by Repeated Fixation of Ectodysplasin Alleles by sciencemag.org
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gasterosteidae.|
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "stickleback". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- 1930 Newsreel of Stickleback Building Nest by British Pathé