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How Do Fish Sense Flow?

Author(s): Jeffrey A. Tuhtan; Juan Franciso Fuentes-Perez

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Abstract: Surface water flows are driven by large-scale atmospheric and gravitational forces. Aquatic organisms embedded within these hydrosystems experience their surroundings via an active, body-oriented sensory space. Their flow sensing system must be capable of distinguishing valuable stimuli over a wide range of spatiotemporal scales and separating them from the multitude of hydrodynamic signals which are continuously transmitted throughout the water. The ability of fish to detect a given stimulus is commensurate with the sensitivity of its ‘lateral line’, the octavo lateralis afferent system. Additionally, fish body movement generates complex near-body flows which in turn may act as stimuli for fish and other aquatic organisms. In order to advance laboratory and field investigations of flow and fish behavior in ecohydraulics, it is imperative that the flow sensing abilities of fish are explicitly considered. The objective of this work is to present a brief overview of the 60+years of biophysical research studies on the lateral line. The physiological characteristics, sensitivity and range of the lateral line system are introduced to aid ecohydraulic practitioners in addressing the fundamental question: “how do fish sense flow? ”


Year: 2018

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