Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Accuracy paper just came out!

Check out the Journal of the Royal Society Interface for my new paper!

This is work that I completed with three species of centrarchid fishes: bluegill sunfish, green sunfish, and largemouth bass.  These fish capture prey using suction, meaning that their mouths may not even come in contact with prey during a feeding event!  The difficult part about quantifying accuracy with this kind of behavior is that this means that accuracy should not be determined relative to the predator's mouth, but instead, the suction volume.  However, the suction volume is difficult to visualize.  So I modeled this volume as a spheroid (an ellipsoid where two dimensions are equal) and used regression equations to predict the dimensions of the volume based on predator kinematics.  By using this model and 3D predator kinematics, I show that each of the three species differs in the size and shape of the suction volume generated, resulting in differences in predator accuracy when capturing evasive fish prey.  I also showed much higher accuracy in bass than what has been previously described, indicating that my more natural design might allow bass to perform more naturally, since we know they are piscivorous in nature and quite good at capturing other fish.  Finally, I also showed that my estimations of accuracy were able to predict predator capture success, meaning that accuracy is a relevant measure of performance in these fishes.  This model is important for allowing other researchers to more easily use accuracy as a performance measure in other studies, so we can begin to understand predator performance and why some species are better at capturing certain prey types.  We can also start to understand the evolution of these behaviors and how differences among species are important for shaping the diversity that we see.

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