Nectophore coordination and kinematics by physonect siphonophores
Journal of Experimental Biology
Siphonophores are ubiquitous and often highly abundant members of pelagic ecosystems throughout the open ocean. They are unique among animal taxa in that many species use multiple jets for propulsion. Little is known about the kinematics of the individual jets produced by nectophores (the swimming bells of siphonophores) or whether the jets are coordinated during normal swimming behavior. Using remotely operated vehicles and SCUBA, we video recorded the swimming behavior of several physonect species in their natural environment. The pulsed kinematics of the individual nectophores that comprise the siphonophore nectosome were quantified and, based on these kinematics, we examined the coordination of adjacent nectophores. We found that, for the five species considered, nectophores located along the same side of the nectosomal axis (i.e. axially aligned) were coordinated and their timing was offset such that they pulsed metachronally. However, this level of coordination did not extend across the nectosome and no coordination was evident between nectophores on opposite sides of the nectosomal axis. For most species, the metachronal contraction waves of nectophores were initiated by the apical nectophores and traveled dorsally. However, the metachronal wave of Apolemia rubriversa traveled in the opposite direction. Although nectophore groups on opposite sides of the nectosome were not coordinated, they pulsed with similar frequencies. This enabled siphonophores to maintain relatively linear trajectories during swimming. The timing and characteristics of the metachronal coordination of pulsed jets affects how the jet wakes interact and may provide important insight into how interacting jets may be optimized for efficient propulsion.
Strock, S., Costello, J., Daniels, J., Katija, K., & Colin, S. (2023). Nectophore coordination and kinematics by physonect siphonophores. Journal of Experimental Biology, 226 (18) https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.245955