Swimming Kinematics And Hydrodynamics Of Barnacle Larvae Throughout Development

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Proceedings Of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences


Changes in size strongly influence organisms' ecological performances. For aquatic organisms, they can transition from viscosity- to inertia-dominated fluid regimes as they grow. Such transitions are often associated with changes in morphology, swimming speed and kinematics. Barnacles do not fit into this norm as they have two morphologically distinct planktonic larval phases that swim differently but are of comparable sizes and operate in the same fluid regime (Reynolds number 100–101). We quantified the hydrodynamics of the rocky intertidal stalked barnacle Capitulum mitella from the nauplius II to cyprid stage and examined how kinematics and size increases affect its swimming performance. Cyprids beat their appendages in a metachronal wave to swim faster, more smoothly, and with less backwards slip per beat cycle than did all naupliar stages. Micro-particle image velocimetry showed that cyprids generated trailing viscous vortex rings that pushed water backwards for propulsion, contrary to the nauplii's forward suction current for particle capture. Our observations highlight that zooplankton swimming performance can shift via morphological and kinematic modifications without a significant size increase. The divergence in ecological functions through ontogeny in barnacles and the removal of feeding requirement likely contributed to the evolution of the specialized, taxonomically unique cyprid phase.


flow structure, high-speed imaging, cyprid, nauplius, metamorphosis

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