Do movement patterns differ between laboratory and field suction feeding behaviors in a Mexican cichlid?

Brook O. Swanson, Alice C. Gibb, Jane C. Marks, Dean A. Hendrickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We analyzed feeding behavior of individuals of Herichthys minckleyi, the Cuatro Ciénegas cichlid, under laboratory conditions and freely behaving in their natural environment using high-speed video imaging. In a multivariate analysis of suction feeding behaviors there was no clear grouping of feeding events based on the environment, which suggests that most of the variability in the data was unrelated to differences between lab and field behaviors. In fact, the variability within an environment was far greater than the variability between the two environments. These results suggest that laboratory studies can accurately describe the kinematics of behaviors seen in the field. However, although lab based studies can quantify behaviors seen in the field, natural habitats are complex and provide individuals with the opportunity to exploit a wide range of food types and microhabitats, which may elicit behaviors not observed in the laboratory. However, feeding behaviors observed in the lab are representative of frequently used feeding behaviors in the field, at least for this species. Thus, we suggest that laboratory studies of feeding behavior, particularly those that test biomechanical or performance-based hypotheses can be extrapolated to natural environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-208
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Biology of Fishes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Functional morphology
  • Herichthys minckleyi
  • Kinematics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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