On the role of copepod antennae in the production of hydrodynamic force during hopping

Iman Borazjani, Fotis Sotiropoulos, Edwin Malkiel, Joseph Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


We integrate high-resolution experimental observations of a freely hopping copepod with three-dimensional numerical simulations to investigate the role of the copepod antennae in production of hydrodynamic force during hopping. The experimental observations revealed a distinctive asymmetrical deformation of the antennae during the power and return strokes, which lead us to the hypothesis that the antennae are active contributors to the production of propulsive force with kinematics selected in nature in order to maximize net thrust. To examine the validity of this hypothesis we carried out numerical experiments using an anatomically realistic, tethered, virtual copepod, by prescribing two sets of antenna kinematics. In the first set, each antenna moves as a rigid, oar-like structure in a reversible manner, whereas in the second set, the antenna is made to move asymmetrically as a deformable structure as revealed by the experiments. The computed results show that for both cases the antennae are major contributors to the net thrust force during hopping, and the results also clearly demonstrate the significant hydrodynamic benefit in terms of thrust enhancement and drag reduction derived from the biologically realistic, asymmetric antenna motion. This finding is not surprising given the low local Reynolds number environment within which the antenna operates, and points to striking similarities between the copepod antenna motion and ciliary propulsion. Finally, the simulations provide the first glimpse into the complex, highly 3-D structure of copepod wakes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3019-3035
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Antenna deformation
  • Copepod
  • Hopping
  • Hydrodynamic forces
  • Numerical simulation


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