Feeding Physiology of Elongate Limbless Vertebrates


Research Program

The central goals of my research program are to characterize morphological and behavioural diversity and to identify the factors that both increase and limit diversity in vertebrate lineages. To accomplish these goals, my research focuses on the evolution of feeding innovations in vertebrates. I am particularly fascinated by the effects of extreme body elongation and limb reduction/ limb loss on feeding behaviour. Extreme body elongation is correlated with limb reduction and a reduced cross-sectional area. In vertebrates, this body plan is energetically expensive as it increases the surface area: volume relationship and magnifies gape constraints. Snakes and moray eels, two independent clades of successful obligate predators, exhibit morphological and behavioural adaptations for overcoming gape constraints imposed by their elongate body plan. Currently, I study the morphological and behavioural variation underlying feeding behaviour in snakes and moray eels. My immediate research projects attempt to better understand the evolution of jaw ratcheting behaviour in morays. Jaw ratcheting in morays is an alternative to the commonly used hydrodynamic intra-oral transport mechanism used in the majority of aquatic vertebrates.


Current research