Strain and activity patterns were determined during slow steady swimming (tailbeat frequency 1.5-2.5 Hz) at three locations on the body in the slow myotomal muscle of rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss using sonomicrometry and electromyography. Strain was independent of tailbeat frequency over the range studied and increased significantly from +/-3.3 % l0 at 0.35BL to +/-6 % at 0.65BL, where l0 is muscle resting length and BL is total body length. Muscle activation occurred significantly later in the strain cycle at 0.35BL (phase shift 59 degrees) than at 0.65BL (30 degrees), and the duration of activity was significantly longer (211 degrees at 0.35BL and 181 degrees at 0.65BL). These results differ from those of previous studies. The results have been used to simulate in vivo activity in isolated muscle preparations using the work loop technique. Preparations from all three locations generated net positive power under in vivo conditions, but the negative power component increased from head to tail. Both kinematically, and in the way its muscle functions to generate hydrodynamic thrust, the rainbow trout appears to be intermediate between anguilliform swimmers such as the eel, which generate thrust along their entire body length, and carangiform fish (e.g. saithe Pollachius virens), which generate thrust primarily at the tail blade.

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