, Volume 161, Issue 1, pp 125–131

Some size relationships in phytoflagellate motility

  • Ulrich Sommer
Part Two: Spatial Distribution and Motility of Flagellates

DOI: 10.1007/BF00044105

Cite this article as:
Sommer, U. Hydrobiologia (1988) 161: 125. doi:10.1007/BF00044105


Data from the literature are used to assess some hypothesised adaptive advantages of the flagellate life form among phytoplankton. Possible advantages include increased nutrient uptake by movement through a homogeneous medium as opposed to exploitation of spatial hetrogeneity of the environment. Maximal migrational amplitudes and maximal swimming velocities of phytoflagellates were compared to body size. Both were found to increase with size. Relative amplitudes and relative velocities, however, were found to decrease with size. Hydrophysical considerations show that additional gain of nutrients by swimming through a homogeneous medium is only minimal for small flagellates at their attainable swimming velocities. It is suggested that exploitation of environmental heterogeneity in nutrient distribution may be one of the most important advantages for flagellates over coccoid algae.

Key words

flagellates swimming velocity vertical migration size relationship 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulrich Sommer
    • 1
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute of LimnologyPlönFRG

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