The Effects of Flow on Swimming Behavior of Brachionus manjavacas (Rotifera)
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Rotifers serve as model species and are crucial to the zooplankton communities in terms of feeding and nutrition as well as their overall contribution to aquatic food webs (Wallace et al., 2010). Rotifers experience fluid flow in their natural environments of lakes and streams. Fluid velocity acts as stimulus to rotifers, causing them to adjust their swimming speed and direction. I am interested in how rotifers respond to flow, which is known as rheotaxis (Marcos, 2012). Brachionus manjavacas is the rotifer species employed in my experiments. This study simulates fluid flow at rates similar to that rotifers may experience in a riverine ecosystem with unidirectional flow. My intention is to uncover the ways in which the animals respond to flow in these tightly controlled conditions. Rotifers are categorized by age and tested in flow rates ranging from 0.0 to 1.0 mm/sec. Video analysis enables us to quantify swimming velocity and dissect its directionality. The study observes Brachionus manjavacas behavior in terms of aging and analyzes behavior (swimming) from an ecological perspective. It was observed that two-day-old rotifers swim the fastest on average, while four-day-old animals show fastest swimming patterns against the flow. The end result is a behavioral profile that can be useful for understanding how rotifers adapt to flow.