Kinematics of swimming in two burrowing anguilliform fishes
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Zoology : analysis of complex systems
, p. 78-84
University of Antwerp
Anguilliform or eel-like fishes are typically bottom dwellers, some of which are specialized burrowers. Although specializations for burrowing are predicted to affect the kinematics of swimming, it remains unknown to what extent this is actually the case. Here we examine swimming kinematics and efficiency of two burrowing anguilliform species, Pisodonophis boro and Heteroconger hassi, with different degrees of specialization for burrowing. Our data suggest that differences in the swimming kinematics may indeed be related to the differences in burrowing specialization and style between both species. The resemblance between the swimming kinematics of P. boro and previously published data for Anguilla anguilla and Anguilla rostrata may be linked with the relatively limited burrowing specialization of P. boro and suggests an overall stereotypy in anguilliform forward-swimming patterns. The body of H. hassi, in contrast, is more specialized for tail-first burrowing and backward swimming bears a striking resemblance to the backward burrowing motions observed in this species. These motions differ significantly from backward swimming in Anguilla and in P. boro. The kinematics of forward swimming are, however, comparable across species. Thus, our data suggest that specializations for burrowing may affect swimming kinematics in anguilliform fishes, but also that forward swimming and burrowing are not necessarily incompatible. Future studies comparing the kinematics and mechanics of burrowing in these and other anguilliform fishes are needed to better understand how specializations for burrowing constrain backward swimming in H. hassi.