Biologically-Generated Flows by Plankton


Jeannette Yen

Professor, School of Biology

Director, Center for Biologically-Inspired Design

Georgia Institute of Technology

    Three different aquatic organisms: 1) the pelagic copepod Euchaeta rimana; 2) the pelagic snail Limacina helicina; and 3) the pelagic krill Euphausia pacifica, show distinct propulsive mechanisms that vary from jet propulsion, flapping, to paddling, respectively. Collectively their flow regimes span the range from viscosity-dominated to transitional, inertial-dominated flows - Re ~ O(10) to O(103). Using high resolution imaging, the motion of the appendages and the flowfield they induce along with the resulting self-propulsion of the organism and 3D trajectories of freely swimming individuals have been analyzed to address questions pertaining to the hydrodynamics of plankton swimming and the mechanisms such microscopic organisms have evolved to leverage viscous forces to produce thrust and achieve often striking levels of propulsive performance.