TitleMotor patterns of labriform locomotion: Kinematic and electromyographic analysis of pectoral fin swimming in the labrid fish Gomphosus varius
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsWestneat, MW, Walker JA
ISBN Number0022-0949

Labriform locomotion is a widespread swimming mechanism in fishes during which propulsive forces are generated by oscillating the pectoral fins, We examined the activity of the six major muscles that power the pectoral fin of the bird wrasse Gomphosus varius (Labridae: Perciformes). The muscles studied included the fin abductors (arrector ventralis, abductor superficialis and abductor profundus) and the fin adductors (arrector dorsalis, adductor superficialis and adductor profundus), Our goals were to determine the pattern of muscle activity that drives the fins in abduction and adduction cycles during pectoral fin locomotion, to examine changes in the timing and amplitude of electromyographic (EMG) patterns with increases in swimming speed and to correlate EMG patterns with the kinematics of pectoral fin propulsion, EMG data were recorded from three individuals over a range of swimming speeds from 15 to 70 cm s(-1) (1-4.8 TL s(-1), where TL is total body length), The basic motor pattern of pectoral propulsion is alternating activity of the antagonist abductor and adductor groups, The downstroke is characterized by activity of the arrector ventralis muscle before the other abductors, whereas the upstroke involves nearly synchronous activity of the three adductors, Most EMG variables (duration, onset time, amplitude and integrated area) showed significant correlations with swimming speeds, However, the timing and duration of muscle activity are relatively constant across speeds when expressed as a fraction of the stride period, which decreases with increased velocity. Synchronous recordings of kinematic data (maximal abduction and adduction) with EMG data revealed that activity in the abductors began after maximal adduction and that activity in the adductors began nearly synchronously with maximal abduction, Thus, the pectoral fin mechanism of G. varius is activated by positive work from both abductor and adductor muscle groups over most of the range of swimming speeds, The adductors produce some negative work only at the highest swimming velocities, We combine information from pectoral fin morphology, swimming kinematics and motor patterns to interpret the musculoskeletal mechanism of pectoral propulsion in labrid fishes.