If a Jack-of-all-trades is a master of none, is a Jack-of-one-trade a master of only one? Surprisingly, there have been few studies testing whether trophic specialists actually possess a limited breadth of function, and no studies relating degree of functional versatility to feeding performance on prey types that are not usually included in the specialist's diet. I tested the hypotheses that Gomphosus varius Lacepede, a coral reef fish species which feeds almost exclusively on non-elusive prey, does not adjust its prey capture mechanism and is less proficient when capturing a prey type other than its preferred resource. I used nested ANOVAs to compare high-speed videotaped jaw movements of G. varius and two coexisting confamilial trophic generalists as they captured elusive and non-elusive prey. Both of the generalists, which occasionally consume elusive prey, exhibited functional versatility when capturing elusive prey, but G. varius did not. The significantly lower capture success rate of G. varius when feeding on elusive prey, compared to the generalists, supports a causative link between G. varius' stereotypical kinematics and the virtual absence of elusive prey in its diet. Quantitative assessments of functional versatility and feeding performance are useful in analysing patterns of resource use and predicting their stability over time.
Functional Ecology publishes original papers in organismal ecology, including physiological ecology, behavioural ecology and evolutionary ecology, and their implications for community and ecosystem patterns and processes. Papers may describe experimental, comparative or theoretical studies on any type of organism. Work that is purely descriptive, or that focuses on population dynamics (without investigation of the underlying factors influencing population dynamics) will not be accepted unless it sheds light on those specific areas mentioned above. Functional Ecology publishes standard papers, reviews, forum and perspective articles, in addition to special features which are collections of papers on a single theme. The journal is published six times a year. Further details are available at www.functionalecology.org. JSTOR provides a digital archive of the print version of Functional Ecology. The electronic version of Functional Ecology is available at http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/117987963/home. Authorized users may be able to access the full text articles at this site.
The vision of the British Ecological Society is to advance ecology and make it count. The Society was established in 1913 and has approximately 4,000 members worldwide, and membership is open to all with an interest in ecology. The BES's many activities include the publication of a range of scientific literature, including five internationally renowned journals, the organisation and sponsorship of a wide variety of meetings, the funding of numerous grant schemes, education work and policy work. Journal of Ecology was first published in 1913 to coincide with the Society's inaugural meeting and the portfolio has been expanded to include Journal of Animal Ecology (from 1932), Journal of Applied Ecology (from 1964), Functional Ecology (from 1987) and the online journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution (from 2010).