Suction feeding in Serranids

The work I did as a post doc in Peter Wainwright’s Lab at UC Davis was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. This study examined suction feeding kinematics among 30 species of Serranid fishes (sea bass, groupers, anthias), as well as morphology to test five general predictions in relation to suction feeding. This study is one of the largest comparative data sets on suction feeding to date, and one of the first to relate suction index (based on morphological measurements) to kinematics during a strike. We found

Relationship between Suction Index and log10 attack speed. Figure 2A from the paper. Points represent species, colored by subfamily (Epinephelinae in black, Serraninae in red and Anthiinae in green.)

a trade-off between suction index, which is the morphological potential to generate suction, and the speed used during the attack. However, the relationship was more complex, where species that attacked with high speeds being limited to having a low ponteial for suction; whereas those that attacked at low speeds spanned the range of suction index values. We also found no relationship between the mechanical advantage of the lower jaw opening lever and the speed of the lower jaw opening. This is one of the first test of the trade-off between mechanical advantage and speed in a lever system. Among our thirty species we also found that species using fast speeds during the attack had increased cranial kinematics, including larger gapes, more hyoid depression, more jaw protrusion and greater rotation of the cranium and lower jaw. Together our results highlight the use of large, detailed kinematic datasets to elucidate the complex relationships associated with suction feeding. Our results suggest that trade-offs derived from simple biomechanical models may be less of a constraint on the evolutionary diversification of fish feeding systems than previously thought .

If you would like a reprint of the paper, feel free to email me.
Oufiero, C.E., R.A. Holzman, F.A. Young and P.C. Wainwright. 2012. New insights from serranid fishes on the role of trade-offs in suction feeding diversification.  The Journal of Experimental Biology215: 3845-3855.

Here are some videos from the Wainwright Lab Youtube channel that correspond to this paper.

This video represents a species that has a high suction index and uses slow speeds during a strike.

This video represents a species that has a low suction index and uses fast speeds during a strike.

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