WoRMS source details
Daniels, Joost; Aoki, Nadège; Havassy, Josh; Katija, Kakani; Osborn, Karen J.;. (2021). Metachronal Swimming with Flexible Legs: A Kinematics Analysis of the Midwater Polychaete Tomopteris. Integrative and Comparative Biology. efirst.
Daniels, Joost; Aoki, Nadège; Havassy, Josh; Katija, Kakani; Osborn, Karen J.;
Metachronal Swimming with Flexible Legs: A Kinematics Analysis of the Midwater Polychaete Tomopteris
Integrative and Comparative Biology
World Polychaeta Database (WPolyD).
Aquatic animals have developed a wide array of adaptations specific to life underwater, many of which are related to moving in the water column. Different swimming methods have emerged, such as lift-based flapping, drag-based body undulations, and paddling. Patterns occur across scales and taxa, where animals with analogous body features use similar locomotory methods. Metachronal paddling is one such wide-spread propulsion mechanism, occurring in taxa as diverse as ctenophores, crustaceans, and polychaetes. Sequential movement of multiple, near identical appendages, allows for steady swimming through phase-offsets between adjacent propulsors. The soft-bodied, holopelagic polychaete Tomopteris has two rows of segmental appendages (parapodia) positioned on opposite sides along its flexible body that move in a metachronal pattern. The outer one-third of their elongate parapodia consist of two paddle-like pinnules that can be spread or, when contracted, fold together to change the effective width of the appendage. Along with metachronal paddling, tomopterid bodies undulate laterally, and by using high speed video and numerical modeling, we seek to understand how these two behaviors combine to generate effective swimming. We collected animals using deep-diving remotely operated vehicles, and recorded video data in shore- and ship-based imaging laboratories. Kinematics were analyzed using landmark tracking of features in the video data. We determined that parapodia are actively moved to generate thrust and pinnules are actively spread and contracted to create differences in drag between power and recovery strokes. At the same time, the body wave increases the parapodium stroke angle and extends the parapodia into undisturbed water adjacent to the body, enhancing thrust. Based on kinematics measurements used as input to a 1D numerical model of drag-based swimming, we found that spreading of the pinnules during the power stroke provides a significant contribution to propulsion, similar to the contribution provided by the body wave. We conclude that tomopterids combine two different propulsive modes, which are enabled by their flexible body plan. This makes their anatomy and kinematics of interest not only for biologists, but also for soft materials and robotics engineers.