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Biol Lett. 2008 Feb 23;4(1):84-6.

Integrated diversification of locomotion and feeding in labrid fishes.

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  • 1Section of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA. dcollar@oeb.harvard.edu

Abstract

An organism's performance of any ecological task involves coordination of multiple functional systems. Feeding performance is influenced by locomotor abilities which are used during search and capture of prey, as well as cranial mechanics, which affect prey capture and processing. But, does this integration of functional systems manifest itself during evolution? We asked whether the locomotor and feeding systems evolved in association in one of the most prominent and diverse reef fish radiations, the Labridae. We examined features of the pectoral fins that affect swimming performance and aspects of the skull that describe force and motion of the jaws. We applied a recent phylogeny, calculated independent contrasts for 60 nodes and performed principal components analyses separately on contrasts for fin and skull traits. The major axes of fin and skull diversification are highly correlated; modifications of the skull to amplify the speed of jaw movements are correlated with changes in the pectoral fins that increase swimming speed, and increases in force capacity of the skull are associated with changes towards fins that produce high thrust at slow speeds. These results indicate that the labrid radiation involved a strong connection between locomotion and feeding abilities.

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