SICB Division of Vertebrate Morphology (DVM)

DVM Researchers Database Entry

James Liao

How fish alter their swimming mechanics and physiology when exposed to turbulent flow environments
The view from below: My research documents how fish can profoundly alter their swimming mechanics and physiology when exposed to turbulent flow environments. Fish, like these rainbow trout, adopt a novel mode of locomotion when they interact with vortices (revealed here by bubbles) generated experimentally from a cylinder. By using high-speed video, flow visualization, and in vivo muscle recordings, I was able to show that fish reduce muscle activity when interacting with vortices. This finding supports a hydrodynamic explanation for fish distributions in schools and in current swept habitats. Field work confirms that a diversity of wild fishes of differing body morphologies and ecological niches will exploit vortices shed from cylinders. Currently, I am investigating the role of sensory feedback on locomotion at the cellular level using zebrafish.