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Oecologia

, Volume 148, Issue 3, pp 538–546 | Cite as

Plankton motility patterns and encounter rates

  • André W. Visser
  • Thomas Kiørboe
Behavioural Ecology

Abstract

Many planktonic organisms have motility patterns with correlation run lengths (distances traversed before direction changes) of the same order as their reaction distances regarding prey, mates and predators (distances at which these organisms are remotely detected). At these scales, the relative measure of run length to reaction distance determines whether the underlying encounter is ballistic or diffusive. Since ballistic interactions are intrinsically more efficient than diffusive, we predict that organisms will display motility with long correlation run lengths compared to their reaction distances to their prey, but short compared to the reaction distances of their predators. We show motility data for planktonic organisms ranging from bacteria to copepods that support this prediction. We also present simple ballistic and diffusive motility models for estimating encounter rates, which lead to radically different predictions, and we present a simple criterion to determine which model is the more appropriate in a given case.

Keywords

Ballistic Diffusion Predator–prey interactions Random walk Reaction distance Swimming behaviour 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This study was supported by Danish Research Agency grants, 98-01-391 to AWV and KT, and 21-03-0299 to AWV. The authors also wish to thank Hans Jackobsen, Espen Bagøien and Marja Koski for data and carrying out valuable lab work.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marine Ecology and AquacultureDanish Institute for Fisheries ResearchCharlottenlundDenmark

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