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Santa Cruz, CA

Vikram Baliga, PhD Candidate at UC Santa Cruz, member of the Mehta Lab. Areas of study: ecology, ontogeny, morphometrics, and comparative methods.

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Available now: Journal of Morphology paper on prey capture kinematics

Vikram Baliga

I am happy to share that my previously-mentioned paper on the kinematics of prey capture in three species of cleaner fishes has now been included in the most recent issue (November 2015) of Journal of Morphology.

Larabicus quadrilineatus feeding on an euthanized & suspended client fish. The original video was shot at 1000 frames per sec in 1024x1024 resolution. The above clip has been cropped and slowed to play at 30 frames per sec. This is one of several clips available in the paper's supplementary materials.

Larabicus quadrilineatus feeding on an euthanized & suspended client fish. The original video was shot at 1000 frames per sec in 1024x1024 resolution. The above clip has been cropped and slowed to play at 30 frames per sec. This is one of several clips available in the paper's supplementary materials.

This was a very exciting paper for me to write, as it is the first (to my knowledge) documentation of prey capture kinematics in any cleaner fishes!

Based on what we found, cleaning is accomplished through extremely low-displacement and rapid jaw movements. Specialists like Labroides dimidiatus (the bluestreak cleaner wrasse) typically only show jaw excursions smaller than 15 degrees, while the average non-cleaner wrasse will rotate its lower jaw closer to 25-35 degrees during prey capture.

This study added a lot of depth to my ongoing comparative morphological studies by helping me identify key features & traits of the feeding apparatus that appear to be vital to cleaning behavior.