Biomechanics and Evolution of Fish Locomotion
posted December 06th, 2010
A major research focus of my laboratory is the locomotor biology of fishes that generate forward propulsion by oscillating and undulating the fins. We ask the questions: How are fishes designed to swim efficiently and with such high maneuverability? How are the muscle-tendon-bone systems that provide thrust coordinated by neuromotor control? How has locomotion evolved in complex 3-dimensional coral reef environments? Techniques used in locomotor biomechanics include kinematics, electromyography, sonomicrometery, and modeling of the biomechanics and hydrodynamics of locomotion. We study three-dimensional kinematics of fin motions by using high-speed videography. To understand the role of muscles in fish swimming behaviors, we use electromyography to record the activity patterns of major muscles. Sonomicrometry provides direct estimates of muscle shortening in living fishes. Finally, we construct biomechanical models of locomotor systems that provide a rigorous basis for comparison among species.