Imagine trying to swim through a pool of honey. Because of their small size, this is what swimming in water is like for tiny marine plankton. So, it was often assumed they would be easy prey, especially in the dense viscosity of colder waters, but that is not necessarily so.
Texas Tech Associate Professor and Whitacre Endowed Chair in Mechanical Engineering Jian Sheng, along with biologists Brad Gemmell and Edward Buskey from the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, have discovered new information that explains how these tiny organisms overcome this disadvantage.
Their paper, titled “A compensatory escape mechanism at low Reynolds number” was published in the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“The purpose of the study was in trying to determine the effects of climate change at the very base of the food chain,” Sheng said.