Refuging rainbow trout selectively exploit flows behind tandem cylinders

William J. Stewart, Fang-bao Tian, Otar Akanyeti, Christina J. Walker, James C. Liao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (SciVal)


Fishes may exploit environmental vortices to save in the cost of locomotion. Previous work has investigated fish refuging behind a single cylinder in current, a behavior termed the Kármán gait. However, current-swept habitats often contain aggregations of physical objects, and it is unclear how the complex hydrodynamics shed from multiple structures affect refuging in fish. To begin to address this, we investigated how the flow fields produced by two D-shaped cylinders arranged in tandem affect the ability of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) to Kármán gait. We altered the spacing of the two cylinders from l/D of 0.7 to 2.7 (where l=downstream spacing of cylinders and D=cylinder diameter) and recorded the kinematics of trout swimming behind the cylinders with high-speed video at Re=10,000–55,000. Digital particle image velocimetry showed that increasing l/D decreased the strength of the vortex street by an average of 53% and decreased the frequency that vortices were shed by ∼20% for all speeds. Trout were able to Kármán gait behind all cylinder treatments despite these differences in the downstream wake; however, they Kármán gaited over twice as often behind closely spaced cylinders (l/D=0.7, 1.1, and 1.5). Computational fluid dynamics simulations show that when cylinders are widely spaced, the upstream cylinder generates a vortex street that interacts destructively with the downstream cylinder, producing weaker, more widely spaced and less-organized vortices that discourage Kármán gaiting. These findings are poised to help predict when fish may seek refuge in natural habitats based on the position and arrangement of stationary objects
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2182-2191
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


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