Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:

Biomechanics of larval morphology affect swimming: Insights from the sand dollars Dendraster excentricus

Authors Chan, Kit Yu Karen View this author's profile
Issue Date 2012
Source Integrative and Comparative Biology , v. 52, (4), 2012, Oct, p. 458-469
Summary Most planktonic larvae of marine invertebrates are denser than sea water, and rely on swimming to locate food, navigate advective currents, and avoid predators. Therefore, swimming behaviors play important roles in larval survival and dispersal. Larval bodies are often complex and highly variable across developmental stages and environmental conditions. These complex morphologies reflect compromises among multiple evolutionary pressures, including maintaining the ability to swim. Here, I highlight metrics of swimming performance, their relationships with morphology, and the roles of behavior in modulating larval swimming within biomechanical limits. Sand dollars have a representative larval morphology using long ciliated projections for swimming and feeding. Observed larval sand dollars fell within a narrow range of key morphological parameters that maximized their abilities to maintain directed upward movement over the most diverse flow fields, outperforming hypothetical alternatives in a numerical model. Ontogenetic changes in larval morphology also led to different vertical movements in simulated flow fields, implying stage-dependent vertical distributions and lateral transport. These model outcomes suggest a tight coupling between larval morphology and swimming. Environmental stressors, such as changes in temperature and pH, can therefore affect larval swimming through short-term behavioral adjustments and long-term changes in morphology. Larval sand dollars reared under elevated pCO2 conditions had significantly different morphology, but not swimming speeds or trajectories. Geometric morphometric analysis showed a pH-dependent, size-mediated change in shape, suggesting a coordinated morphological adjustment to maintain swimming performance under acidified conditions. Quantification of the biomechanics and behavioral aspects of swimming improves predictions of larval survival and dispersal under present-day and future environmental conditions. © 2012 The Author. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. All rights reserved.
ISSN 15407063
Language English
Format Article
Access View full-text via DOI
View full-text via Scopus
View full-text via Web of Science