Effect of Reynolds Number on Mechanics of Water Boatman Locomotion

Open Access
Denby, Rebecca
Area of Honors:
Mechanical Engineering
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Margaret Byron, Thesis Supervisor
  • Stephanie Stockar, Honors Advisor
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Intermediate Reynolds Number
  • Insect Swimming
  • Leakiness
  • Propulsion
Understanding the hydrodynamics of swimming requires an understanding of the forces involved in propulsion through a fluid. At the centimeter-scale at which many freshwater invertebrates operate, these fluid forces are not well understood. We seek to better understand the hydrodynamics and kinematics of swimming in these animals, as locomotion is crucial to survival, especially for keystone species living in sensitive ecosystems. At the length and velocity scales at which these animals operate, intermediate Reynolds numbers imply that both inertia and viscosity are important for propulsion. One group of insects that falls into the intermediate Reynolds number regime is the family Corixidae, known as the water boatmen. To gain a better understanding of the propulsive forces dominating the locomotion of the boatman, this study investigates kinematics of the power and recovery strokes using high speed cinematography. This study also explores the morphology of hairy appendages and identifies the contributions to propulsion by area changes experienced by the appendage. Furthermore, this study aims to understand possible biological implications of observed behaviors.