Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 39–67

Functional morphology of the feeding apparatus of ten species of Pacific butterflyfishes (Perciformes, Chaetodontidae): an ecomorphological approach

  • Philip J. Motta

DOI: 10.1007/BF00000543

Cite this article as:
Motta, P.J. Environ Biol Fish (1988) 22: 39. doi:10.1007/BF00000543


The functional morphology of the feeding apparatus and the feeding ecology of an assemblage of ten species of butterflyfishes was investigated using a comparative ecomorphological approach. Behavioral observations in situ and in vivo, morphological measurements of fresh-killed specimens, scanning electron microscopy, and kinematic modeling were utilized. The fishes show varying degrees of morphological and behavioral specialization and generalization. The more specialized species group according to how they feed, rather than what they feed on. The feeding guild concept is therefore not very instructive in understanding the functional significance of the feeding apparatus. Many of the morphologically specialized butterflyfishes demonstrate evolutionary convergence in feeding morphology. Whereas the more morphologically specialized species do generally have more ecologically specialized diets, these data do not particularly support the ecomorphological hypothesis in that similar diets do not correspond to similar morphologies.

Key words

Jaws Dentition Feeding Convergence Ecomorphology Chaetodontids Corals Reef 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip J. Motta
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of MontanaMissoulaU.S.A.
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaU.S.A.

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