Publication Date

Summer 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Moss Landing Marine Laboratories


Lara A. Ferry-Graham


critical swimming speed, C-start escape response, morphology, surfperches

Subject Areas

Biology, Morphology; Biology, Animal Physiology; Biomechanics


Surfperches are marine fishes that occupy nearshore habitats along the California coast. Morphology was analyzed to determine if there were differences among 19 preserved species. Principal components analysis (PCA) was used to reduce the dimensionality of the data. Morphological differences occurred among the 19 species. ANOVA revealed a habitat effect on PC2, which described the angle of attachment of the pectoral fin. Pearson correlation revealed that genetic relatedness decreased with increasing morphological differences on PC1, which described aspect ratio and body ratio. Based on PC2, four species were selected to conduct experiments on their swimming performance. Ucrit and fin beat frequency were measured in a flume to assess speed; flexibility was assessed via the body bending coefficient and the C-start escape response. Species differences were observed in all swimming performance variables, yet there were no tradeoffs in swimming fast versus maneuverability. Morphology seems to describe only part of the story.