Non-inertial Undulatory Locomotion Across Scales

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Diaz Cruz, Kelimar
Goldman, Daniel I.
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Locomotion is crucial to behaviors such as predator avoidance, foraging, and mating. In particular, undulatory locomotion is one of the most common forms of locomotion. From microscopic flagellates to swimming fish and slithering snakes, this form of locomotion is a remarkably robust self-propulsion strategy that allows a diversity of organisms to navigate myriad environments. While often thought of as exclusive to limbless organisms, a variety of locomotors possessing few to many appendages rely on waves of undulation for locomotion. In inertial regimes, organisms can leverage the forces generated by their body and the surrounding medium's inertia to enhance their locomotion (e.g., coast or glide). On the other hand, in non-inertial regimes self-propulsion is dominated by damping (viscous or frictional), and thus the ability for organisms to generate motion is dependent on the sequence of internal shape changes. In this thesis, we study a variety of undulating systems that locomote in highly damped regimes. We perform studies on systems ranging from zero to many appendages. Specifically, we focus on four distinct undulatory systems: 1) C. elegans, 2) quadriflagellate algae (bearing four flagella), 3) centipedes on terrestrial environments, and 4) centipedes on fluid environments. For each of these systems, we study how the coordination of their many degrees of freedom leads to specific locomotive behaviors. Further, we propose hypotheses for the observed behaviors in the context of each of these system's ecology.
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