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Prey selection and functional morphology through ontogeny of Amphiprion clarkii with a congeneric comparison

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The relationship between the complexity of the feeding apparatus and prey selection through ontogeny was examined in Amphiprion clarkii larvae. Larvae were reared from 1 to 10 days post-hatch (dph) on a diet of rotifers, wild-caught plankton and newly hatched Artemia sp. nauplii. Results were compared with available data on the relationship between functional morphology and prey selection of Amphiprion frenatus to establish patterns of functional morphology and prey selection between the larvae of two species of coral-reef fishes. Larvae of both species exhibited an increase in selection of larger prey through ontogeny coincident with an increase in the complexity of the feeding apparatus. The first elements to ossify in larvae of both species were the pharyngeal teeth (A. clarkii: 5 dph, near ±s.d.Standard length, LS,4· 3 ± 0· 2 mm; A. frenatus: 5 dph, LS5· 0 ± 0· 4 mm) which, in combination with the development of a more functional feeding apparatus, may have permitted larvae to better process new types and sizes of prey. Prey items, however, were selected differentially between the two fish species, which could not be fully explained by the functional state of the feeding apparatus. While prey selection is influenced by the functional state of the feeding apparatus, all aspects of larval fish biology (morphology, behaviour and physiology) should be considered.
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Keywords: interspecific comparison; marine fish larvae

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Florida Institute of Technology, 150 W. University Boulevard, Melbourne, FL 32901, U.S.A

Publication date: 2009-08-01

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