Swimming speed performance in coral reef fishes: field validations reveal distinct functional groups

Fulton, C.J. (2007) Swimming speed performance in coral reef fishes: field validations reveal distinct functional groups. Coral Reefs, 26 (2). pp. 217-228.

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Central to our understanding of locomotion in fishes are the performance implications of using different modes of swimming. Employing a unique combination of laboratory performance trials and field observations of swimming speed, this study investigated the comparative performance of pectoral and body-caudal fin swimming within an entire assemblage of coral reef fishes (117 species 10 families). Field observations of swimming behaviour identified three primary modes: labriform (pectoral 70 spp.), subcarangiform (body-caudal 29 spp.) and chaetodontiform (augmented body-caudal 18 spp.). While representative taxa from all three modes were capable of speeds exceeding 50 cm s−1 during laboratory trials, only pectoral-swimmers maintained such high speeds under field conditions. Direct comparisons revealed that pectoral-swimming species maintained field speeds at a remarkable 70% of their maximum (lab-tested) recorded speed; species using body-caudal fin propulsion maintained field speeds at around 50% of maximum. These findings highlight a profound influence of swimming mode on performance, with the relative mechanical and energetic efficiency of each swimming mode being of major importance. Combining attributes of efficiency, maneuverability and speed in one mode of propulsion, pectoral swimming appears to be a particularly versatile form of locomotion, well suited to a demersal lifestyle on coral reefs.

Item ID: 2857
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: gait; pectoral; Body-caudal; habitat use; energetic implications
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2009 01:39
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0606 Physiology > 060601 Animal Physiology - Biophysics @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060807 Animal Structure and Function @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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