SICB Division of Ecology and Evolution (DEE)

DEE Researchers Database Entry

Steve Huskey

Functional design (morphology) and realized utility (ecology) in vertebrates
My research interests focus on the link between functional design (morphology) and realized utility (ecology) in vertebrates. I am attempting to shed light on our understanding of the relationship between form and function by using tools such as biomechanics, kinematics, electromyography, and negative pressure generation in lower vertebrates to better understand their behaviors. Currently, my focus is on the feeding mechanism of fishes and how it relates to: 1) the environment in which it feeds, 2) the type of prey it feeds upon, and 3) the amount of manipulation and processing involved once the prey has been captured. Specifically, I have been comparing the feeding ecomorphology and behaviors of members of the genus Micropterus, or freshwater black basses, for inter- and intraspecific functional morphological differences. The upper image is a fully articulated skeleton of a 10-pound largemouth bass used in modelling the feeding mechanism.

Another area of interest to me is the effect of changes in body size through ontogeny (scaling) on feeding performance in fishes. My collaborators and I have measured the ability of common snook, Centropomus undecimalis, to generate subambient pressure (suction) through a size series of individuals. While morphology scaled with isometry, suction pressures did not differ between individuals, suggesting that snook maintain their ability to maximize negative buccal pressure regardless of body size. The lower image is a fully articulated skeleton of a 10-pound common snook.