Publication Date

Spring 2016

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Steve Huskey (Director), Dr. Michael Collyer, and Dr. Phil Lienesch

Degree Program

Department of Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science


The feeding behavior of fishes is a topic that has piqued the interests of many researchers given the dynamic and ancestral nature of aquatic prey-capture. This study examines aquatic feeding in terms of the suction and ram components of feeding in smallmouth bass, Micropterus dolomieu, and how they modulate their kinematic behavior when attacking pelagic and benthic prey. Relative to other Micropterus genera, the reduced gape in smallmouth bass suggests they may create considerable suction pressure – stronger subambient pressure pulled through a smaller opening creates greater velocity. Suction feeding is useful when feeding on benthic prey, such as crayfish. Ram feeding is utilized when capturing pelagic prey, such as goldfish, because prey swimming in the water column can be overtaken with body speed. Prey-capture experiments using high-speed cinematography and pressure transducers were conducted to determine if smallmouth bass modulate their feeding performance between pelagic and benthic prey items. Results indicate that smallmouth bass modulate their behavior to include both aspects of ram and suction feeding when presented with differing prey, utilizing greater ram when feeding in the water column and stronger suction when feeding off the substrate (MANCOVA, p


Aquaculture and Fisheries | Biology