Meeting Abstract

95.6  Tuesday, Jan. 6 14:45  Quantifying the Morphological Diversity of Teleost Taxa that Apprehend Prey By Biting MEHTA, R/S*; BALIGA, V/B; Univ. of California, Santa Cruz; Univ. of California, Santa Cruz

Biting to apprehend prey is a widespread behavioral strategy in terrestrial vertebrates, but in aquatic environments, biting can be considered a behavioral novelty. Within the last ten years, functional morphology studies focused on predatory teleost taxa that employ biting to capture prey have emerged. Through these studies, it is apparent that biters exhibit a high degree of variation in behavior, morphology, kinematics, and motor patterns. Despite the interest in biting, functional morphologists lack a unifying operational definition of this behavior, presumably due to the diversity of biters. While biters exhibit interesting variation in key features related to prey capture, the vast majority of biters retain the ability to expand the buccal cavity for transport and respiration. Here, we provide an operational definition of biting that clearly distinguishes biting as a prey apprehension strategy from one that is employed for processing prey (i.e. manipulation). We also examine the relationship between maximal gape distance and prey capture time for biters that consume both non-elusive and elusive prey. Lastly, we examine the relationship between characters comprising the oral jaws and those comprising the hyoid apparatus in a subsample of biters spread across disparate teleost clades. We find that biting taxa that consume elusive prey exhibit a weaker relationship between the oral jaws and the hyoid apparatus compared to those consuming non-elusive prey. Thus in our preliminary analysis, apprehending elusive prey seems to have had cascading effects on other functional systems such as prey transport.