Nearby boundaries create eddies near microscopic filter feeders

Rachel E. Pepper, Marcus Roper, Sangjin Ryu, Paul Matsudaira, Howard A. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


We show through calculations, simulations and experiments that the eddies often observed near sessile filter feeders are frequently due to the presence of nearby boundaries. We model the common filter feeder Vorticella, which is approximately 50 μm across and which feeds by removing bacteria from ocean or pond water that it draws towards itself. We use both an analytical stokeslet model and a Brinkman flow approximation that exploits the narrow-gap geometry to predict the size of the eddy caused by two parallel no-slip boundaries that represent the slides between which experimental observations are often made. We also use three-dimensional finite-element simulations to fully solve for the flow around a model Vorticella and analyse the influence of multiple nearby boundaries. Additionally, we track particles around live feeding Vorticella in order to determine the experimental flow field. Our models are in good agreement both with each other and with experiments. We also provide approximate equations to predict the experimental eddy sizes owing to boundaries both for the case of a filter feeder between two slides and for the case of a filter feeder attached to a perpendicular surface between two slides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)851-862
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number46
StatePublished - May 6 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


  • Biofluids
  • Boundaries
  • Brinkman
  • Filter feeder
  • Stokeslet
  • Vorticella


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