Do flatfish feed like other fishes? A comparative study of percomorph prey-capture kinematics

Alice C. Gibb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The kinematics of prey capture in two bilaterally asymmetrical pleuronectiform flatfish species (Pleuronichthys verticalis and Xystreurys liolepis) and two symmetrical percomorph species (Lepomis macrochirus, a centrarchid, and Cheilinus digrammus, a labrid) were compared to test the hypothesis that flatfish have distinct prey-capture kinematics from those quantified for other percomorph fishes. Size-matched individuals of both flatfish species were video-taped feeding using a high-speed video system. Cephalic displacement and timing variables were quantified and compared with data from similarly sized L. macrochirus and C. digrammus previously collected by other researchers using similar experimental methodology. Nested multivariate analyses of variance indicated that there was no significant difference in prey-capture kinematics between flatfish and non-flatfish taxa, but that prey-capture kinematics did differ among the four taxa. Multiple nested analyses of variance revealed that the taxa differed in 7 of 11 kinematic variables. Post-hoc tests and comparisons with other fish taxa suggest that individuals of P. verticalis possess an unusual combination of prey-capture kinematics including large hyoid depression, large neurocranial rotation, large upper jaw protrusion and small gape. Previous research has suggested that this combination of traits is associated with suction-based prey capture. Correspondingly, the ram-suction index calculated for P. verticalis is more negative (indicating a greater use of suction) than that calculated for the other taxa. When homologous kinematic variables are compared across these four taxa, flatfish do not appear to have similar prey-capture kinematics. However, both flatfish species are distinct from the two symmetrical percomorph species in their asymmetrical jaw movements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2841-2859
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 1997


  • Asymmetry
  • Feeding behavior
  • Flatfish
  • Kinematics
  • Percomorpha
  • Pleuronectiformes
  • Prey capture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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