Multidimensional analysis of suction feeding performance in fishes: Fluid speed, acceleration, strike accuracy and the ingested volume of water

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Title: Multidimensional analysis of suction feeding performance in fishes: Fluid speed, acceleration, strike accuracy and the ingested volume of water
Author: Higham, Timothy; Day, Steven; Wainwright, Peter
Abstract: Suction feeding fish draw prey into the mouth using a flow field that they generate external to the head. In this paper we present a multidimensional perspective on suction feeding performance that we illustrate in a comparative analysis of suction feeding ability in two members of Centrarchidae, the largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) and bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus). We present the first direct measurements of maximum fluid speed capacity, and we use this to calculate local fluid acceleration and volumetric flow rate. We also calculated the ingested volume and a novel metric of strike accuracy. In addition, we quantified for each species the effects of gape magnitude, time to peak gape, and swimming speed on features of the ingested volume of water. Digital particle image velocimetry (DPIV) and high-speed video were used to measure the flow in front of the mouths of three fish from each species in conjunction with a vertical laser sheet positioned on the mid-sagittal plane of the fish. From this we quantified the maximum fluid speed (in the earthbound and fish’s frame of reference), acceleration and ingested volume. Our method for determining strike accuracy involved quantifying the location of the prey relative to the center of the parcel of ingested water. Bluegill sunfish generated higher fluid speeds in the earthbound frame of reference, accelerated the fluid faster, and were more accurate than largemouth bass. However, largemouth bass ingested a larger volume of water and generated a higher volumetric flow rate than bluegill sunfish. In addition, because largemouth bass swam faster during prey capture, they generated higher fluid speeds in the fish’s frame of reference. Thus, while bluegill can exert higher drag forces on stationary prey items, largemouth bass more quickly close the distance between themselves and prey. The ingested volume and volumetric flow rate significantly increased as gape increased for both species, while time to peak gape had little effect on the volume. However, peak gape distance did not affect the maximum fluid speed entering the mouth for either species. We suggest that species that generate high fluid speeds in the earthbound frame of reference will commonly exhibit small mouths and a high capacity to deliver force to buccal expansion, while species that ingest a large volume of water and generate high volumetric flow rates will have larger buccal cavities and cranial expansion linkage systems that favor displacement over force delivery.
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Date: 2006-05-03

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