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Integration of Versatile Functional Design, Population Ecology, Ontogeny and Phylogeny

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

The study of the functional morphology of fishes has been greatly influenced by interactions with related fields. We give examples of some possible confounding factors when trying to assess the functional repertoire of fishes, including the effect of prey availability and the effect of captivity. A narrow range of prey items and an extended period in captivity both decrease the scope of the functional repertoire. Specialists and generalists have not been able to coexist in conventional competition based models of optimal foraging. A recent extension of this model does succeed in modeling the communities which are typical of the African Rift Lakes. This warrants a re-evaluation of the importance of competition in structuring fish communities. Ontogenetic shifts in the functional morphology of the feeding apparatus of teleostean fishes may explain why a synapomorphy of the group is not always important functionally in the adult. The levator operculi-opercular rotation mode of mouth opening is vital for larval fishes but in some cases becomes unimportant in adults. We emphasize that examination of early life history stages holds important information about the adaptive significance of diverse structures.

Affiliations: 1: Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA; 2: Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California atBerkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-3160, USA


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