Interspecific variation in sternohyoideus muscle morphology in clariid catfishes: Functional implications for suction feeding

Authors

  • Sam Van Wassenbergh,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biology, Universiteit Antwerpen, Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610 Antwerpen, Belgium
    • Department of Biology, Laboratory for Functional Morphology, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610 Antwerp, Belgium
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  • Anthony Herrel,

    1. Department of Biology, Universiteit Antwerpen, Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610 Antwerpen, Belgium
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  • Dominique Adriaens,

    1. Evolutionary Morphology of Vertebrates, Ghent University, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, B-9000 Gent, Belgium
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  • Peter Aerts

    1. Department of Biology, Universiteit Antwerpen, Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610 Antwerpen, Belgium
    2. Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Watersportlaan 2, B-9000 Gent, Belgium
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Abstract

Depression of the hyoid apparatus plays a crucial role in generating suction, especially in fishes with a dorso-ventrally flattened head shape. It is generally assumed that shortening of the sternohyoideus muscle, which connects the hyoid to the pectoral girdle, contributes to hyoid depression. However, a recent study on the clariid catfish Clarias gariepinus has shown that this muscle does not shorten but elongates during this phase through retraction of the pectoral girdle. Here, we test whether this pattern is general among clariid catfish, or if variation in the morphology of the sternohyoideus may result in a different sternohyoideus behavior during hyoid depression. First, sternohyoideus mass, effective cross-sectional area, fiber length and fiber diameter were measured and compared for four clariid species. Next, velocity and magnitude of hyoid depression during prey capture (from high-speed videos), as well as patterns of sternohyoideus strain were analyzed (from high-speed X-ray videos) in these species. While morphology and hyoid depression performance varied considerably among these species, only the species with the most massive sternohyoideus, Gymnallabes typus, showed shortening of the sternohyoideus muscle during the initial part of the expansive phase. The data for Channallabes apus demonstrate that increasing the magnitude of hyoid depression does not necessarily require a shortening of the m. sternohyoideus, as it shows elongation of this muscle during hyoid depression. J. Morphol., 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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