Propulsion efficiency and imposed flow fields of a copepod jump. Academic Article uri icon


  • Pelagic copepods jump to relocate, to attack prey and to escape predators. However, there is a price to be paid for these jumps in terms of their energy costs and the hydrodynamic signals they generate to rheotactic predators. Using observed kinematics of various types of jumps, we computed the imposed flow fields and associated energetics of jumps by means of computational fluid dynamics simulations by modeling the copepod as a self-propelled body. The computational fluid dynamics simulation was validated by particle image velocimetry data. The flow field generated by a repositioning jump quickly evolves into two counter-rotating viscous vortex rings that are near mirror image of one another, one in the wake and one around the body of the copepod; this near symmetrical flow may provide hydrodynamic camouflage because it contains no information about the position of the copepod prey within the flow structure. The flow field associated with an escape jump sequence also includes two dominant vortex structures: one leading wake vortex generated as a result of the first jump and one around the body, but between these two vortex structures is an elongated, long-lasting flow trail with flow velocity vectors pointing towards the copepod; such a flow field may inform the predator of the whereabouts of the escaping copepod prey. High Froude propulsion efficiency (0.94-0.98) was obtained for individual power stroke durations of all simulated jumps. This is unusual for small aquatic organisms but is caused by the rapidity and impulsiveness of the jump that allows only a low-cost viscous wake vortex to travel backwards.

publication date

  • February 1, 2011