Hydromechanical signals in the plankton

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

422 Downloads (Pure)


The distance at which plankters can detect and thus interact with each other depends on their sensitivity, size, and motion, as well as the hydrodynamic characteristics of their behaviour. Through a simple consideration of the distribution of forces exerted on the ambient fluid by different plankton behaviours, it is possible to deduce the spatial scale over-which the associated hydromechanical disturbance propagates. At low Reynolds numbers, for passive sinking or for a feeding current, the associated hydromechanical velocity, u, attenuates with distance, r, as u proportional to a Ur(-1) where a is the length scale of the organism and U is its velocity relative to the fluid. Similarly, for a self-propelled organism, u proportional to a(2) Ur(-2), In contrast, at high Reynolds numbers, a self-propelled organism generates a forward hydromechanical disturbance that has the form u proportional to a(3)Ur(-3). Within this context, observed planktonic interactions, particularly for copepods, were analysed and showed reasonably good support for the theory. The remote detection of inert particles by feeding-current-generating and free-swimming copepods was found to be feasible for known copepod sensitivities. Directional information and signal timing for flow disturbances and vortices provided a means of locating active organisms. Finally, the effect of turbulence was considered, as it can impair a copepod's detection ability. A simple analysis of ambush-feeding copepods detecting swimming ciliates under turbulent conditions showed good agreement with previously reported observations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine Ecology - Progress Series
Pages (from-to)1-24
Publication statusPublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Copyright (2001) Inter-Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Hydromechanical signals in the plankton'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this