Distributions of Hawaiian stream fishes are typically interrupted by waterfalls that divide streams into multiple segments. Larvae hatch upstream, are flushed into the ocean, and must climb these waterfalls to reach adult habitats when returning back to freshwater as part of an amphidromous life cycle. Stream surveys and studies of climbing performance show that Lentipes concolor Gill can reach fast-flowing upper stream segments but that Awaous guamensis Valenciennes reaches only slower, lower stream segments. Gut content analyses for these two species indicate considerable overlap in diet, suggesting that feeding kinematics and performance of these two species might be comparable. Alternatively, feeding kinematics and performance of these species might be expected to differ in relation to the different flow regimes in their habitat (feeding in faster stream currents for L. concolor versus in slower currents for A. guamensis). To test these alternative hypotheses, we compared food capturing kinematics and performance during suction feeding behaviors of A. guamensis and L. concolor using morphological data and high-speed video. Lentipes concolor showed both a significantly larger gape angle and faster jaw opening than A. guamensis. Geometric models calculated that despite the inverse relationship of gape size and suction pressure generation, the fast jaw motions of L. concolor allow it to achieve higher pressure differentials than A. guamensis. Such elevated suction pressure would enhance the ability of L. concolor to successfully capture food in the fast stream reaches it typically inhabits. Differences in jaw morphology may contribute to these differences in performance, as the lever ratio for jaw opening is about 10% lower in L. concolor compared with A. guamensis, suiting the jaws of L. concolor better for fast opening.
Copyright 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.