Spatial and temporal patterns of water flow generated by suction-feeding bluegill sunfish Lepomis macrochirus resolved by Particle Image Velocimetry

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Title: Spatial and temporal patterns of water flow generated by suction-feeding bluegill sunfish Lepomis macrochirus resolved by Particle Image Velocimetry
Author: Day, Steven; Higham, Timothy; Cheer, Angela; Wainwright, Peter
Abstract: The suction-feeding fish generates a flow field external to its head in order to draw prey into the mouth. To date there are very few empirical measurements that characterize the fluid mechanics of suction feeding, particularly the temporal and spatial patterns of water velocity in front of the fish. To characterize the flow in front of suction-feeding bluegill sunfish Lepomis macrochirus, measurements with high spatial (<1·mm) and temporal (500·Hz) resolution were taken using Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV). In an analysis separate from the PIV, high-speed video sequences were used for a novel method of visually tracking every seed particle for the duration of each feeding in order to determine directly the total parcel of water that the fish ingests. PIV measurements and particle tracking show that water is drawn from all around the mouth. Fluid velocity decreases rapidly with distance from the mouth and is only significant (>5% of speed at the mouth) within roughly 1 mouth diameter of the fish. Suction feeders gain little in terms of extending this flow field by even substantial increases in the fluid speed at the mouth opening. Instead, the chief advantage of increased flow speed at the mouth may be the increased magnitude of generated forces within the space very close to the mouth. After scaling of the velocity field based on size of the mouth opening and the measured fluid speed at a fixed position, the measured velocity profiles for all feedings are very similar to one another, so that a functional relationship for the magnitude of fluid speed as a function of distance from the predator mouth is presented and shown to be accurate over the range of kinematic variables tested. This relationship describes the velocity field both along the centerline of the fish and along transects lying at an angle to the centerline within both the mid-sagittal and frontal planes. Comparison of the time-resolved fluid velocity measurements to gape kinematics demonstrate that peak fluid speed occurs simultaneously with 95% of peak gape, showing that the bluegill maximizes nearly simultaneously both the generated forces and size of the region over which these forces act. The magnitude of peak fluid speed during each strike decreases as a function of increasing time to peak gape (r2=0.87), demonstrating a strong relationship between the rate of buccal cavity expansion and maximum generated flow speed.
Description: RIT community members may access full-text via RIT Libraries licensed databases: http://library.rit.edu/databases/
Record URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1850/8590
Publishers URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jeb.01708
Date: 2005-05-24

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