Project 3144: G. Verhaegen, H. Herzog, K. Korsch, G. Kerth, M. Brede, M. Haase. 2019. Testing the adaptive value of gastropod shell morphology to flow: a multidisciplinary approach based on morphometrics, computational fluid dynamics and a flow tank experiment. Zoological Letters. 5 (5):1-13.
Specimen: Potamopyrgus antipodarum (unvouchered)
View: CT of snail shell

Abstract

A major question in stream ecology is how invertebrates cope with flow. In aquatic gastropods, typically, larger and more globular shells with larger apertures are found in lotic (flowing water) versus lentic (stagnant water) habitats. This has been hypothetically linked to a larger foot, and thus attachment area, which has been suggested to be an adaptation against risk of dislodgement by current. Empirical evidence for this is scarce. Furthermore, these previous studies did not discuss the unavoidable increase in drag forces experienced by the snails as a consequence of the increased cross sectional area. Here, using Potamopyrgus antipodarum as study model, we integrated computational fluid dynamics simulations and a flow tank experiment with living snails to test whether 1) globular shell morphs are an adaptation against dislodgement through lift rather than drag forces, and 2) dislocation velocity is positively linked to foot size, and that the latter can be predicted by shell morphology. The drag forces experienced by the shells were always stronger compared to the lift and lateral forces. Drag and lift forces increased with shell height but not with globularity. Rotating the shells out of the flow direction increased the drag forces, but decreased lift. Our hypothesis that the controversial presence of globular shells in lotic environments could be explained by an adaptation against lift rather than drag forces was rejected. Foot size was only predicted by the size of the shell, not by shell shape or aperture size, showing that the assumed aperture/foot area correlation should be used with caution and cannot be generalized for all aquatic gastropod species. Finally, shell morphology and foot size were not related to dislodgement speed in our flow tank experiment. We conclude that other traits must play a major role in decreasing dislodgement risk in stream gastropods, e.g., specific behaviours or pedal mucus stickiness. Although we did not find globular shells to be adaptations for reducing dislodgement risk, we cannot rule out that they are still flow-related adaptations. For instance, globular shells are more crush-resistant and therefore perhaps adaptive in terms of diminishing damage caused by tumbling after dislodgement or against lotic crush-type predators.


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Article DOI: 10.1186/s40851-018-0119-6

Project DOI: 10.7934/P3144, http://dx.doi.org/10.7934/P3144
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    member name taxa specimens media media
    notes
    Gerlien Verhaegen
    Project Administrator
    Last logged in 01/31/19
    1129461955
    Maureen Admin
    Last logged in 01/31/19
    0000
    Tanya Berardini
    Last logged in 01/31/19
    0000


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