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Two-spined stickleback Gasterosteus wheatlandi Putnam 1867 [68]

[Jordan and Evermann, 1896-1900, as Gasterosteus gladiunculus Kendall, p. 2836.]


This stickleback is said to differ from the three-spined stickleback in having a deeper body, fewer fin rays (9 or 10 dorsal and 7 or 8 anal); fewer dermal plates (5 or 6 as against 28 to 33); a caudal peduncle without keels; and a strong cusp both above and below at the base of [page 311] the ventral spine. Dr. Kendall writes[69] that careful examination of large series has convinced him that this is actually a distinct species, not a race of the extremely variable three-spined stickleback, although he saw one specimen apparently intermediate between the two.


Grass-green above in life, mottled and finely speckled with black on the top of the head and back; sides of head and body golden with dark blotches; breast silvery; ventral fins scarlet.


Its mode of life is the same as that of the three-spined species so far as known, and sticklebacks of this type have been described as building nests with bits of straw on sandy bottom in New York waters,[70] but the two species or races have been confused so often that nothing more definite can be said of its habits.

General range—

Newfoundland to New York.

Occurrence in the Gulf of Maine—

Sticklebacks of this type are common in company with the three-spined sticklebacks in Passamaquoddy and St. Mary Bays[71] and in the Bay of Fundy. They may be expected anywhere on the Maine coast, being recorded at Winter Harbor; off Monhegan Island; off Seguin Island; from Casco Bay and its tributaries in both salt and brackish water; and from Kittery. They have also been taken at Swampscott, in Massachusetts Bay, and they are fairly common in summer at Woods Hole. We have taken them in our tow-nets, also, off Cape Porpoise; on Platts Bank; in the Western Basin of the Gulf of Maine; and on German Bank.

[68] This is the Gasterosteus biaculeatus of Mitchill 1815 and Storer 1867; bispinosus of Walbaum 1792; gladiunculus of Kendall 1896, but not the G. bispinosus of Jordan and Evermann 1896, which is a variety of G. aculeatus. For the reason for using the specific name wheatlandi, see Hubbs, Occasional Papers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 200, 1925.

[69] Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., vol. 18, 1896, p. 624.

[70] Bean, Bull. 60, New York State Mus., Zool. 9, 1903, p. 341.

[71] Huntsman, Contrib. Canadian Biol. (1921) 1922, p. 61.