Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 6, pp 2013–2023 | Cite as

Ontogeny of feeding behavior and cranial morphology in the whitespotted bambooshark Chiloscyllium plagiosum

  • Dayv LowryEmail author
  • Philip J. Motta
Research Article


Morphological and behavioral development of the feeding apparatus over early ontogeny can profoundly affect the ability of an organism to obtain nourishment, ultimately impacting survival. The interplay between morphology and behavior over the first year of life was studied in the whitespotted bambooshark Chiloscyllium plagiosum (Bennett 1830) beginning in March of 2002 using high-speed videography and dissection. Externally measured variables describing cranial growth, and jaw weight, scaled at or near isometry while jaw and hyoid musculature, especially the coracohyoideus, demonstrated considerable hypertrophication. The difference between the volume of the buccal cavity when open and closed scaled with substantial positive allometry while the time to reach maximum jaw and hyoid abduction exhibited weak allometry, resulting in the capacity for more rapid and greater volumetric intake during feeding. In addition, the relative forward motion of the predator during a strike decreased over ontogeny and the feeding modality became more suction-dominated. Kinematic variables exhibited little variability and the primary aspect of food capture that was modulated in response to food type was the forward motion of the predator. An increase in capture success was noted for live, elusive shrimp over ontogeny indicating that morphological and behavioral changes have direct consequences for prey acquisition. Conservation of head shape coupled with a narrow behavioral repertoire is hypothesized to increase prey capture success in the wild over ontogeny as individuals become more proficient in the execution of a single, low-variability, suction-dominated capture behavior.


Food Type Buccal Cavity Early Ontogeny Food Motion Positive Allometry 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Laboratory assistance was graciously provided by M. Matott, C. Gehrke, D. Huber, A. Castro, and S. Lowry. Shark husbandry provided by K. Mathews, M. Schulte, C. Schreiber, and the staff of SeaWorld Adventure Park, Orlando, FL. Specimens obtained from SeaWorld Adventure Park, Orlando, FL. Comments from C. Sanford, C. Wilga, and two anonymous reviewers contributed to the content of this manuscript. Funded in part by a Tharpe Endowed Scholars Grant to D. Lowry through the University of South Florida and the PADI Project A.W.A.R.E. Foundation Grant Program. All specimen maintenance and handling procedures approved by the University of South Florida Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee under protocol numbers 1709 and 2299.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Washington Department of Fish and WildlifePoint Whitney Shellfish LaboratoryBrinnonUSA

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