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The kinematics of voluntary steady swimming of hatchling and adult axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum Shaw, 1789)
D'Août, K.; Aerts, S. (1999). The kinematics of voluntary steady swimming of hatchling and adult axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum Shaw, 1789), in: Mees, J. (Ed.) Proceedings of the 5th Benelux Congress of Zoology Gent, 6-7 November 1998. Belgian Journal of Zoology, 129(1): pp. 305-316
In: Mees, J. (Ed.) (1999). Proceedings of the 5th Benelux Congress of Zoology Gent, 6-7 November 1998. Belgian Journal of Zoology, 129(1). Koninklijke Belgische Vereniging voor Dierkunde = Société royale zoologique de Belgique: Brussel. 324 pp., meer
In: Belgian Journal of Zoology. Koninklijke Belgische Vereniging voor Dierkunde = Société royale zoologique de Belgique: Gent. ISSN 0777-6276; e-ISSN 2295-0451, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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  • D'Août, K.; Aerts, S. (1999). The kinematics of voluntary steady swimming of hatchling and adult axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum Shaw, 1789). Belg. J. Zool. 129(1): 305-316, meer

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  • D'Août, K.
  • Aerts, S.

Abstract
    Axolotls swim throughout post-hatching ontogeny. This coincides with an approximately twentyfold range in total body length (L), which may imply unfavourable differences in encountered flow regime (viscous versus inertial) during ontogeny. Using high-speed video (500 fields/s), we analysed the kinematics, mechanical efficiency, swimming speed and flow regime of swimming hatchlings (approximately 0.01 m L, « stage 1 »), 2 week old animals (approximately 0.02 m L, « stage 2 ») and 20 week old animals (approximately 0.08 m L, « stage 3 », and compared the data with similar data from adults (0.135-0.238 m L, « stage 4 »).All stages swim by passing waves of lateral curvature down the body. The kinematics, described by the characteristics of this wave (speed, frequency, length, amplitude) are largely comparable in all four stages: within each stage, swimming speed is increased by increasing the wave frequency only. Mechanical swimming efficiency, estimated by means of Lighthill's elongated-body theory, is about 5% lower in hatchlings than in adults.The most stricking result is that the observed, voluntary absolute swimming speed from this stage 1 to stage 4 are much more similar than would be expected given the twenty-fold L range. Possible explanations are ecological and/or hydrodynamical. Firstly, predator escape success increases as the swimming speed increases. Secondly, by adopting high speeds, axolotls increase Reynolds numbers, and thus avoid having to swim in the unfavourable viscous flow regime.

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