Zooplankton in flowing water near benthic communities encounter rapidly fluctuating velocity gradients and accelerations

TitleZooplankton in flowing water near benthic communities encounter rapidly fluctuating velocity gradients and accelerations
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsPepper R.E, Jaffe J.S, Variano E., Koehl M.AR
JournalMarine Biology
Date Published2015/10
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0025-3162
Accession NumberWOS:000362322200002
Keywordsbehavioral-responses; communities; energy dissipation rate; fouling; oyster larvae; purple sea-urchin; sand dollars; shear-flow; strongylocentrotus-purpuratus; turbulent flows; vertical transport

The fine-scale temporal patterns of water velocities, accelerations, and velocity gradients encountered by individual zooplankters carried in ambient flow can affect their dispersal, behavior, and interaction with other organisms, but have not yet been measured in realistic flow environments. We focused on zooplankton in wavy turbulent boundary layer flow near benthic communities because such flow affects important processes, including larval settlement and prey capture by benthic zooplanktivores. Flow across fouling communities measured in the field was mimicked in a wave flume, where time-varying velocity fields over biofouled surfaces were quantified using particle image velocimetry (PIV). Trajectories of simulated zooplankters seeded into these flow fields were followed to quantify temporal patterns of velocity gradients and accelerations that individuals encountered. We found that such zooplankters are not subjected to steady velocities or velocity gradients, but rather encounter rapidly fluctuating accelerations and velocity gradients with peaks reaching several orders of magnitude above mean values and lasting fractions of a second, much shorter than the wave period. We calculated the proportion of time zooplankters spent affected (e.g., being damaged, changing behavior) by accelerations or velocity gradients and found that a small increase in mean velocity can cause a much larger increase in time affected. Animal reaction threshold and reaction time also changed the fraction of time they were affected by the flow. Using different PIV spatial resolutions showed that inter-vector spacing should be a parts per thousand currency sign0.5 Kolmogorov length (smallest eddy scale) to accurately capture velocity gradients along trajectories, but coarser resolutions (a parts per thousand currency sign2-6 x Kolmogorov length) are sufficient for velocities, accelerations, and zooplankton trajectories.

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