Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Fluid Dynamics of Odor Capture by Crabs
by Waldrop, Lindsay Diane, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2012, 78; 3526692
Abstract (Summary)

Olfaction is an important process by which animals sense dissolved chemical cues (odors), in the surrounding fluid. Many organisms, including malacostracan crustaceans, use information provided by odors throughout their lifetimes to find suitable habitats for larval settlement, locate food, interact with conspecifics, avoid predation, locate mates, and mediate reproductive behaviors.

The first step in smelling chemical signals in the environment is capture of odorant molecules from the fluid around an organism. I used the crab, Callinectes sapidus, to study the physical process of odor capture. An antennule of C. sapidus takes a discrete sample of ambient water and the odorants it carries each time it flicks, so each flick is a sniff. I found that the flexibility of aesthetascs, which causes the gaps between aesthetascs to widen during the downstroke and narrow during the return stroke, has a big effect on water flow through the array of aesthetascs, but only if the antennule moves rapidly. Likewise, positioning the aesthetasc array on the upstream rather than the downstream side of the lateral flagellum only causes an increase in water speed within an array if the antennule moves rapidly. The change in antennule speed between the rapid downstroke and the slower return stroke of a flick is more effective at altering water speed within an aesthetasc array if the gaps between the aesthetascs are wide. Ambient water current enhances the sniffing by flicking antennules of C. sapidus .

I used the Oregon shore crab, Hemigrapsus oregonensis, as a model organism to study the ontogeny of sniffing by antennules. Antennule flicking behaviors of crabs ranging in carapace width from 4 to 28 mm were recorded using high speed videography, and a morphometric analysis of one antennule from each of these crabs was conducting using scanning electron microscopy. Many features of antennule morphology (including aesthetasc diameter and length, antennule width, and number of aesthetascs) increased at a rate of only 28-60% the rate of increase in carapace width. Velocities of the downstroke and return stroke keep juvenile crabs within the range in which sniffing for malacostracan is possible. Furthermore, the aesthetascs on the antennules of juvenile crabs are bent and splayed apart more during the rapid flick downstroke than are those of adults. I modeled the exoskeletons of aesthetasc s of different sizes as a hollow, cylindrical cantilevers and calculated their deflection by the hydrodynamic force they experience during the downstroke. I found that the greater deflection of juvenile aesthetascs was not due to differences in antennule shape, but rather to ontogenetic changes in the material properties of the aesthetasc cuticle.

To investigate odor capture by antennule flicking of a terrestrial hermit crab, I examined: 1) the kinematics of antennule flicking by filming flicking behavior of ruggie hermit crabs (Coenobita rugosus); and 2) the antennule morphometrics by collecting the antennules of each crab for scanning electron microscopy. I constructed a dynamically scaled physical model of the antennule, and particle image velocimetry (PIV) was used to measure fluid flow around the model. PIV results show that no air flows between the aesthetascs on the antennule's array during either the downstroke or return stroke. Although terrestrial hermit crabs share similar antennule movements and morphological features with marine crabs, they do not discretely sample odors. An odor-transport model based on the convective currents measured with PIV and diffusion of a common odorant was created to investigate the odor-capture performance of the antennule of C. rugosus in air and in water. This model revealed that odor-capture performance is three times higher in air than in water. In air, the majority of odor capture occurred during the downstroke (99.9%). In water, the trend was reversed and the majority of odor capture occurred during the return stroke (94%). Flicking movements serve to increase the probability of encountering odors in environmental air flow, and the high molecular diffusivity in air removes the need for a fluid-trapping return stroke, as seen in aquatic malacostracans. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Koehl, Mimi A. R.
Commitee: Dudley, Robert, Variano, Evan
School: University of California, Berkeley
Department: Integrative Biology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 74/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Biology, Biomechanics
Keywords: Callinectes, Coenobita, Crabs, Fluid dynamics, Hemigrapsus, Olfaction
Publication Number: 3526692
ISBN: 978-1-267-60568-9
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