Copepod nauplii move in a world dominated by viscosity. Their swimming-by-jumping propulsion mode, with alternating power and recovery strokes of three pairs of cephalic appendages, is fundamentally different from the way other microplankters move. Protozoans move using cilia or flagella, and copepodites are equipped with highly specialized swimming legs. In some species the nauplius may also propel itself more slowly through the water by beating and rotating the appendages in a different, more complex pattern. We use high-speed video to describe jumping and swimming in nauplii of three species of pelagic copepods: Temora longicornis, Oithona davisae and Acartia tonsa. The kinematics of jumping is similar between the three species. Jumps result in a very erratic translation with no phase of passive coasting and the nauplii move backwards during recovery strokes. This is due to poorly synchronized recovery strokes and a low beat frequency relative to the coasting time scale. For the same reason, the propulsion efficiency of the nauplii is low. Given the universality of the nauplius body plan, it is surprising that they seem to be inefficient when jumping, which is different from the very efficient larger copepodites. A slow-swimming mode is only displayed by T. longicornis. In this mode, beating of the appendages results in the creation of a strong feeding current that is about 10 times faster than the average translation speed of the nauplius. The nauplius is thus essentially hovering when feeding, which results in a higher feeding efficiency than that of a nauplius cruising through the water.
Public Library of Science
24 Oct 2012
Volume: 7 Issue: 10 Pages: e47486