, Volume 140, Issue 4, pp 801-807

The influence of swimming speed on sustained swimming performance of late-stage reef fish larvae

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Replicate clutches of larvae were swum in a swimming flume at 4, 7, 10, 13, and 16 cm s–1 and the time swum until exhaustion recorded. There was a significant relationship between sustained swimming time and swimming speed for both maximum (R 2=0.77; P<0.05) and mean sustained swimming times (R 2=0.78; P<0.05), with fish swimming at slower speeds swimming longer and covering greater total distances. The relationship observed agrees with theoretical principles relating increasing swimming speed with increasing drag. We used our data for Amphiprion melanopus, combined with published information, to predict the swimming speeds that other reef fish taxa should be able to maintain for significant lengths of time (12–48 h) using three different models. The results agree well with field estimates (R 2 values from 0.45 to 0.84), suggesting that there may be underlying factors influencing swimming ability in reef fish larvae that can be used to predict swimming abilities of different taxa. These models suggest that sustained swimming behaviour by reef fish larvae could have a much greater impact on modifying larval dispersal than previously thought.

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