Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 409–438 | Cite as

Making water flow: a comparison of the hydrodynamic characteristics of 12 different benthic biological flumes

  • Per R. Jonsson
  • Luca A. van Duren
  • Muriel Amielh
  • Ragnhild Asmus
  • Rebecca J. Aspden
  • Darius Daunys
  • Michael Friedrichs
  • Patrick L. Friend
  • Frédéric Olivier
  • Nick Pope
  • Elimar Precht
  • Pierre-Guy Sauriau
  • Estelle Schaaff
Original Paper


Flume tanks are becoming increasingly important research tools in aquatic ecology, to link biological to hydrodynamical processes. There is no such thing as a “standard flume tank”, and no flume tank is suitable for every type of research question. A series of experiments has been carried out to characterise and compare the hydrodynamic characteristics of 12 different flume tanks that are designed specifically for biological research. These facilities are part of the EU network BioFlow. The flumes could be divided into four basic design types: straight, racetrack, annular and field flumes. In each facility, two vertical velocity profiles were measured: one at 0.05 m s−1 and one at 0.25 m s−1. In those flumes equipped with Acoustic Doppler Velocimeters (ADV), time series were also recorded for each velocity at two heights above the bottom: 0.05 m and 20% of the water depth. From these measurements turbulence characteristics, such as TKE and Reynolds stress, were derived, and autocorrelation spectra of the horizontal along-stream velocity component were plotted. The flume measurements were compared to two sets of velocity profiles measured in the field.

Despite the fact that some flumes were relatively small, turbulence was fully developed in all channels. Straight and racetrack flumes generally produced boundary layers with a clearly definable logarithmic layer, similar to measurements in the field taken under steady flow conditions. The two annular flumes produced relatively thin boundary layers, presumably due to secondary flows developing in the curved channels. The profiles in the field flumes also differed considerably from the expected log profile. This may either have been due the construction of the flume, or due to unsteady conditions during measurement. Constraints imposed by the different flume designs on the suitability for different types of boundary layer research, as well as scaling issues are discussed.


Benthic boundary layer Biological–Physical interaction Flume tanks Hydrodynamics methods 


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We would like to acknowledge the comments and contributions of various BioFlow members who are not on the author’s list. We also thank two anonymous referees whose comments greatly improved the manuscript. Finally we gratefully acknowledge the financing by the EU of BioFlow.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Per R. Jonsson
    • 1
  • Luca A. van Duren
    • 2
  • Muriel Amielh
    • 3
  • Ragnhild Asmus
    • 4
  • Rebecca J. Aspden
    • 5
  • Darius Daunys
    • 6
  • Michael Friedrichs
    • 7
  • Patrick L. Friend
    • 8
  • Frédéric Olivier
    • 9
  • Nick Pope
    • 10
  • Elimar Precht
    • 11
  • Pierre-Guy Sauriau
    • 12
  • Estelle Schaaff
    • 13
  1. 1.Department of Marine Ecology, Tjärnö Marine Biological LaboratoryGöteborg UniversityStrömstadSweden
  2. 2.Netherlands Institute of EcologyYersekeThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Institute de Recherche sur des Phénomènes Hors EquilibreMarseilleFrance
  4. 4.Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und MeeresforschungList/SyltGermany
  5. 5.Gatty Marine LaboratoryUniversity of St. AndrewsFife, ScotlandUK
  6. 6.Coastal Research and Planning Institute, Klaipeda UniversityKlaipedaLithuania
  7. 7.Marine Biology DepartmentRostock UniversityRostockGermany
  8. 8.School of Ocean and Earth ScienceSouthampton Oceanography Centre, University of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  9. 9.Station Marine de Dinard, Muséum National de l’Histoire NaturelleDinardFrance
  10. 10.Plymouth Marine LaboratoryPlymouthUK
  11. 11.Max Planck Institut für Marine MikrobiologieBremenGermany
  12. 12.CREMA (UMR 10 CNRS-IFREMER), Centre de Recherche sur les Ecosystèmes Marins et Aquacoles de L’HoumeauL’HoumeauFrance
  13. 13.Centre d’Océanologie de MarseilleMarseilleFrance

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