The field of ecomorphology has a long history with early roots in Europe. In this half of the century the application of ecomorphology to the biology of fishes has developed in the former Soviet Union, Poland and Czechoslovakia, The Netherlands, and in North America. While the specific approaches vary among countries, many North American studies begin by comparing morphological variation with variation in ecological characteristics at the intra or interspecific levels. These initial correlative studies form the ground work for hypotheses that explore the mechanistic underpinnings of the observed ecomorphological associations. Supporting these mechanistic hypotheses are insights from functional studies which demonstrate the limits to potential resource use resulting from a particular morphology; however, the actual resource use is likely to be more limited due to additional constraints provided by internal(e.g., behavior, physiology) and external (e.g., resource abundance, predator distribution) factors. The results from performance studies in the laboratory or field can be used to test specific ecomorphological hypotheses developed from the initial correlational and functional studies. Such studies may, but rarely do, incorporate an ontogenetic analysis of the ecomorphological association to determine their effect on performance. Finally, input from phylogenetic analyses allow an investigator to examine the evolution of specific features and to assess the rates and directionality of character evolution. The structural and ecological diversity of fishes provides a fertile ground to investigate these interactions. The contributions in this volume highlight some of the specific directions for ecomorphological research covering a variety of biological processes in fishes. These include foraging, locomotion, reproduction, respiration, and sensory systems. Running through these papers are new insights into universal ecomorphological issues, i.e., the relationships between form and ecological role and the factors that modify these relationships.
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