Do Changes in Morphology and Prey-Capture Movements Facilitate a Dietary Transition in Juvenile Colorado pikeminnow, Ptychocheilus lucius?
The development of feeding morphology, kinematics and behavior was examined in the juveniles of the cottid fish Clinocottus analis. The attacks of 18 juvenile C. analis, between 17.59 mm and 42.15 mm in standard length (SL), feeding on brown worms were filmed using high-speed video. Feeding mode, ramor suction-dominated, kinematic variables and morphology were quantified and compared over the juvenile period. The analysis of these three factors was based on the following questions: (1) do they change over ontogeny; (2) how do their values compare with those of larvae, juveniles and adults of other species; and (3) what is the level of stereotypy, as measured by the variance in these factors, at this stage in ontogeny and does it change? Small C. analis juveniles have the small gape and large buccal cavity of a suction feeder, and this morphology becomes more pronounced as they become larger. The kinematic variables of C. analis juveniles are similar to those of adult suction-feeding cottids and leastsquares regression analysis showed significant changes in only two variables (time to prey capture and absolute attack predator–prey distance) over the juvenile period. Feeding mode, as measured by the ram-suction index, shows an increase in the suction component of the strike with increasing size. This study demonstrates that, in C. analis, suction feeding behavior develops during the juvenile period. Within the juvenile stage, morphology, prey-capture kinematics and feeding mode are not tightly linked ontogenetically such that suction-feeder kinematics (short predator–prey distance and low attack velocity) and basic morphology (small gape, large buccal volume) develop much earlier than the employment of a large suction component during the strike.