Biophysical Coupling Between Turbulence, Veliger Behavior, and Larval Supply
MASSACHUSETTS INST OF TECH CAMBRIDGE
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The goals of this thesis were to quantify the behavior of gastropod larvae mud snails Ilyanassa obsoleta in turbulence, and to investigate how that behavior affects larval supply in a turbulent coastal inlet. Gastropod larvae retract their velums and sink rapidly in strong turbulence. Turbulence-induced sinking would be an adaptive behavior if it resulted in increased larval supply and enhanced settlement in suitable coastal habitats. In laboratory experiments, mud snail larvae were found to have three behavioral modes swimming, hovering, and sinking. The proportion of sinking larvae increased exponentially with the turbulence dissipation rate over a range comparable to turbulence in a tidal inlet, and the mean larval vertical velocity shifted from upward to downward in turbulence resembling energetic nearshore areas. The larval response to turbulence was incorporated in a vertical advection-diffusion model to characterize the effects of this behavior on larval supply and settlement in a tidal channel. Compared to passive larvae, larvae that sink in turbulence have higher near-bed concentrations throughout flood and ebb tides. This high larval supply enables behaving larvae to settle more successfully than passive larvae in strong currents characteristic of turbulent tidal inlets.
- Fluid Mechanics