Four definable feeding behaviors used during the metamorphic life history of tiger salamanders are terrestrial prey capture and transport (as adults) and aquatic prey capture and transport (as larvae). Previous studies have focused primarily on the first three of these behaviors and thus aquatic prey transport is poorly understood. These studies have indicated that terrestrial prey capture has unique kinematic and motor patterns, whereas the other behaviors are quite similar to one another. Using high-speed video analysis, the kinematics of aquatic prey transport in larval Ambystoma tigrinum are described using both lateral and ventral views. These kinematic patterns are statistically compared with the kinematic patterns of aquatic prey capture, terrestrial prey capture and terrestrial prey transport. Statistical analyses allow us to assess the similarities and differences among the four behaviors and to determine the effect of the metamorphic environmental transition (water to land) and morphological changes of the feeding mechanism (suction- to lingual-based) on feeding kinematics. Our data do not support the notion that lingual-based terrestrial prey capture uses unique kinematic patterns compared with the other three behaviors, which consist of similar movements. Rather, each of the feeding behaviors has unique kinematic features that distinguish it from the others. In addition, variation in tiger salamander feeding kinematics is more a function of the feeding event (whether it is capture or transport) than of the environment in which the feeding takes place or the morphology of the feeding mechanism. Finally, we encourage the use of parsimony-based methods of phylogenetic analysis to analyze shared traits (such as kinematic and/or electromyographic variables) in comparative studies of behavior within a single species.

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