Aquatic feeding in pipid frogs: The use of suction for prey capture

Carrie A. Carroño, Kiisa C. Nishikawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Inertial suction feeding is the most common method of prey capture among aquatic vertebrates. However, it had been unclear whether the aquatic frogs in the family Pipidae also used inertial suction for prey capture. In this study, we examined feeding behavior in four species of pipids, Pipa pipa, Xenopus laevis, Hymenochirus boettgeri and Pseudhymenochirus merlini. Pressure in the buccopharyngeal cavity was measured during prey capture. These pressure measurements were coupled with high-speed recordings of feeding behavior. For each species, the internal buccopharyngeal pressure was found to drop significantly below ambient pressure, and changes in pressure corresponded with the onset of mouth opening. Kinematic analysis revealed that all species of pipids generated subambient pressure during prey capture; H. boettgeri and P. merlini relied solely on inertial suction feeding. Pipa pipa and X. laevis additionally employed forelimb scooping during prey capture but both of these species demonstrated the ability to capture prey with inertial suction alone. Based on buccopharyngeal pressure measurements as well as kinematic analyses, we conclude that inertial suction feeding is used during prey capture in these four species of pipids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2001-2008
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2010


  • Anuran
  • Kinematics
  • Pipidae
  • Pressure
  • Prey capture
  • Suction feeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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