Modes and scaling in aquatic locomotion.

  • Steven Vogel
  • Published 2008 in Integrative and comparative biology


Organisms spanning a 10(7)-fold range in length of the body engage in aquatic propulsion-swimming; they do so with several kinds of propulsors and take advantage of several different fluid mechanical mechanisms. A hierarchical classification of swimming modes can impose some order on this complexity. More difficult are the issues surrounding the different kinds of propulsive devices used by different organisms. These issues can be in part exposed by an examination of how speeds and accelerations scale with changes in body length, both for different lineages of swimmers and for all swimmers collectively. Clearly, fluid mechanical factors impose general rules and constraints; just as clearly, these only roughly anticipate actual scaling. Indeed, collections of data on scaling can serve as useful correctives for assumptions about functional mechanisms. They can also reveal size-dependent constraints on biological designs.

DOI: 10.1093/icb/icn014

Cite this paper

@article{Vogel2008ModesAS, title={Modes and scaling in aquatic locomotion.}, author={Steven Vogel}, journal={Integrative and comparative biology}, year={2008}, volume={48 6}, pages={702-12} }