By studying organismal performance, one can gain insight regarding the evolutionary and developmental processes that shape the adult organism. Bite force is an important trait that can be linked to performance, and therefore survival, of the entire organism. In order for an animal to successfully feed upon its prey, the components of the jaw, such as the skeleton and attached muscles, must be strong enough to withstand the forces required for capturing and then processing (masticating) the prey. Because sharks and skates have a fully cartilaginous skeleton, they theoretically bite off more than deemed biologically possible, these organisms, therefore, are excellent models for study when trying to understand bite performance. The goal was to measure the bite force of Leucoraja erinacea. Dissections were completed for 14 individuals, in order to expose the muscles beneath the skin. The muscles were then removed, and the mass was recorded. Calculations derived from the literature were used to determine total bite force. Linear regression was used to determine the relationship between bite force and size of the organism. The average maximum bite force of Leucoraja erinacea was determined to be roughly 23.3 Newtons (N). There was a positive relationship between bite force and size. This skate produces a much smaller bite force than many other organisms, providing insight into its ecological role in food webs. Many of the shells of commercially important prey were also much stronger than the bite forces estimated for these skates, suggesting that either the skates were not mature or large enough to feed on these prey, or, perhaps this species is unable to feed on these organisms entirely.
Included in this item (3)
- Burke, Samantha Elaine (Author)
- Ferry, Lara (Thesis director)
- Wagner, Carl (Committee member)
- School for the Science of Health Care Delivery (Contributor)
- Barrett, The Honors College (Contributor)