81.1 Friday, Jan. 6 Determinants of feeding performance in marine-fish larvae TURINGAN, R.G.*; WITTENRICH, M.L.; BECK, J.B.; SAMARCO, T.J.; Florida Institute of Technology; University of Florida; NOAA, St. Petersburg, Florida; Florida Institute of Technology email@example.com
Over five decades of research on post-metamorphic (i.e., juvenile- and adult-life history stages) fishes have resulted in our current, substantial understanding of the functional morphology, mechanics, performance, diversity and evolution of fish-feeding systems. In contrast, we have a limited understanding of these features of the feeding system in pre-metamorphic (i.e., post-hatch larva stage) fishes despite our knowledge that the environmental regimes that conspecific fishes experience are extremely different between the two life-history stages. In an attempt to contribute to our understanding of the feeding system in marine-fish larvae, we present empirical evidence of the pre-metamorphic ontogeny of functional morphology, kinematics and feeding performance in several species of marine fishes. In addition, we test some hypotheses concerning fish feeding systems by contrasting key performance metrics between post-larval and larval marine-fish conspecifics. Our studies indicate that (1) earlier stage larvae feed on a restricted type of prey, whereas older larvae feed on more diverse prey types; (2) the prey-capture kinematics of fish larvae is stereotypical across prey types; (3) key functional-morphological components of the feeding mechanism become more complex and integrated as larva develops from hatching to metamorphosis; and (4) the scaling of key feeding-morphological metrics is different between pre-metamorphic and post-metamorphic fishes. We postulate that the functional-morphological determinants of feeding performance, as well as the pattern of morphology-performance relationships in juvenile and adult fishes may be different from those of larval conspecifics.