Meeting Abstract

S9-1.3  Jan. 6  Swimming, running and flying: the evolution of locomotion during prey capture HIGHAM, T.E.; Harvard University

Locomotion is highly integrated with prey capture in predatory vertebrates including diverse groups such as fish, birds, snakes, lizards and mammals. For example, accelerating, decelerating and maneuvering can be important aspects of capturing evasive prey. Identifying trends among and across groups of organisms may provide considerable insight into general rules that constrain and facilitate the co-evolution of feeding and locomotor performance. The goals of this study are to first highlight, in a variety of vertebrate taxa, the components of feeding performance that rely on locomotion, and then present experiments involving suction feeding in fish. Moving fast during prey capture, whether swimming, flying or running, may incur a reduction in strike accuracy. Thus, a key question is whether animals that move fast during prey capture exhibit adaptations for relieving the constraints imposed by accuracy. If locomotion and feeding are highly integrated, then certain morphological and behavioral aspects of locomotion likely facilitate feeding on particular prey types. For example, different locomotor specializations are likely necessary for feeding on evasive versus sessile prey. Identifying the traits that enhance feeding on a particular prey type may provide insight into the diversity of locomotor morphologies and behaviors. For fish, a relatively large mouth, which implies a relatively large ingested volume of water, facilitates swimming fast during prey capture as there is a reduced need to strike accurately. For fish with smaller mouths, braking, which is achieved by extending the paired and median fins, is very important for maintaining accuracy. Thus, the diversity in fin morphology may be related to mouth size and feeding. This research was supported by NSF grant IOB-0444554.