Title
Effects of snout dimensions on the hydrodynamics of suction feeding in juvenile and adult seahorses Effects of snout dimensions on the hydrodynamics of suction feeding in juvenile and adult seahorses
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Publication type
article
Publication
London ,
Subject
Biology
Source (journal)
Journal of theoretical biology. - London
Volume/pages
269(2011) :1 , p. 307-317
ISSN
0022-5193
ISI
000286173000033
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
Seahorses give birth to juveniles having a fully functional feeding apparatus, and juvenile feeding behaviour shows striking similarities to that of adults. However, a significant allometric growth of the snout is observed during which the snout shape changes from relatively short and broad in juveniles to relatively long and slender in adults. Since the shape of the buccal cavity is a critical determinant of the suction performance, this snout allometry will inevitably affect the suction feeding ability. To test whether the snout is optimised for suction feeding throughout an ontogeny, we simulated the expansion of different snout shapes varying from extremely long and slender to short and broad for juvenile and adult snout sizes, using computational fluid dynamic models. Our results showed that the snout diameter at the start of the simulations is involved in a trade-off between the realizable suction volume and expansion time on the one hand (improving with larger initial diameters), and maximal flow velocity on the other hand (improving with smaller initial diameters). Moreover suction performance (suction volume as well as maximal attainable flow velocity) increased with decreasing snout length. However, an increase in snout length decreases the time to reach the prey by the cranial rotation, which may explain the prevalence of long snouts among syngnathid fishes despite the reduced suction performance. Thus, the design of the seahorse snout revolves around a trade-off between the ability to generate high-volume suction versus minimisation of the time needed to reach the prey by the cranial rotation.
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