Few vertebrates capture prey in both the aquatic and the terrestrial environment due to the conflicting biophysical demands of feeding in water versus air. The Atlantic mudskipper (Periophthalmus barbarus) is known to be proficient at feeding in the terrestrial environment and feeds predominately in this environment. Given the considerable forward flow of water observed during the mouth opening phase to assist with feeding on land, the mudskipper must alter the function of its feeding system to feed successfully in water. Here, we quantify the aquatic prey-capture kinematics of the mudskipper and compare this with the previously described pattern of terrestrial feeding. Prior to feeding in the aquatic environment, the gill slits open, allowing water to be expelled through the gill slits. The opposite happens in terrestrial feeding during which the gill slits remain closed at this point. In water, the expansive movements of the head are larger, amounting to a larger volume increase and are initiated slightly later than in the terrestrial environment. This implies the generation of strong suction flows when feeding in water. Consequently, the kinematic patterns of the hydrodynamic tongue during terrestrial feeding and aquatic suction feeding are similar, except for the amplitude of the volume increase and the active closing of the gill slits early during the terrestrial feeding strike. The mudskipper thus exhibits the capacity to change the kinematics of its feeding apparatus to enable successful prey-capture in two disparate environments.
- Received May 25, 2016.
- Accepted September 28, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd
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