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Effects of snout dimensions on the hydrodynamics of suction feeding in juvenile and adult seahorses
Roos, G.; Van Wassenbergh, S.; Aerts, P.; Herrel, A.; Adriaens, D. (2011). Effects of snout dimensions on the hydrodynamics of suction feeding in juvenile and adult seahorses. J. Theor. Biol. 269(1): 307-317.
In: Journal of Theoretical Biology. Elsevier: London,New York,. ISSN 0022-5193; e-ISSN 1095-8541, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 218927 [ OMA ]

    Biogeny > Ontogeny
    Syngnathidae Bonaparte, 1831 [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    Syngnathidae; Feeding; Expansion; Ontogeny; CFD

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    Seahorses give birth to juveniles having a fully functional feeding apparatus, and juvenile feeding behaviour shows striking similarities to that of adults. However, a significant allometric growth of the snout is observed during which the snout shape changes from relatively short and broad in juveniles to relatively long and slender in adults. Since the shape of the buccal cavity is a critical determinant of the suction performance, this snout allometry will inevitably affect the suction feeding ability. To test whether the snout is optimised for suction feeding throughout an ontogeny, we simulated the expansion of different snout shapes varying from extremely long and slender to short and broad for juvenile and adult snout sizes, using computational fluid dynamic models. Our results showed that the snout diameter at the start of the simulations is involved in a trade-off between the realizable suction volume and expansion time on the one hand (improving with larger initial diameters), and maximal flow velocity on the other hand (improving with smaller initial diameters). Moreover suction performance (suction volume as well as maximal attainable flow velocity) increased with decreasing snout length. However, an increase in snout length decreases the time to reach the prey by the cranial rotation, which may explain the prevalence of long snouts among syngnathid fishes despite the reduced suction performance. Thus, the design of the seahorse snout revolves around a trade-off between the ability to generate high-volume suction versus minimisation of the time needed to reach the prey by the cranial rotation.

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