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Diversification of coordination patterns during feeding behaviour in cheiline wrasses

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Successful fish feeding often requires the coordination of several complex motor and sensory systems to ensure that food is accurately detected, approached, acquired, and consumed. In the present study, we address feeding behaviour as a coordinated set of multiple, facultatively independent, anatomical systems. We sought to determine whether the patterns of interaction between trophic, locomotor, and oculomotor systems are associated with changes in morphology and ecology within a closely-related, but trophically divergent, group of fishes. We present a quantitative kinematic analysis of skull motion, locomotor behaviour, and oculomotor responses during feeding to assess coordination in three functional systems directly involved in feeding. We use coordination profiles to depict the feeding behaviours of three carnivorous coral reef fishes of the tribe Cheilinini in the family Labridae (the wrasses): Cheilinus fasciatus (a slow-swimming predator of benthic invertebrates), Epibulus insidiator (a slow-stalking predator with extraordinary jaw protrusion), and Oxycheilinus digrammus (a fast-attack predator). Differences were detected in several variables relating to jaw, body, fin, and eye movements. Overall patterns of coordination were more similar between E. insidiator and O. digrammus, which are capable of capturing elusive prey, than between C. fasciatus and E. insidiator, which are the two most closely-related species among the three. Evidence for the evolution of coordination patterns among cheiline fishes suggests that the sensory-motor systems involved in processing stimuli and coordinating a physical response during feeding have changed considerably, even among closely-related species. © 2008 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 93, 289–308.
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Keywords: Cheilinini; Labridae; biomechanics; coral reef fish; functional morphology; kinematics; swimming; vision

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 February 2008

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