15 May 2023
 | 15 May 2023

Clustering of settling microswimmers in turbulence

Jingran Qiu, Zhiwen Cui, Eric Climent, and Lihao Zhao

Abstract. Clustering of plankton plays a vital role in several biological activities including feeding, predation and mating. Gyrotaxis is one of the mechanisms that induces clustering. A recent study reported a fluid inertial torque acting on a spherical micro-swimmer, which is analogous to a gyrotactic torque. In this study, we model plankton cells as micro-swimmers that are subject to gravitational sedimentation as well as a fluid inertial torque. We use direct numerical simulations to obtain the trajectories of swimmers in homogeneous isotropic turbulence, and investigate their clustering by Voronoï analysis. Our findings indicate that fluid inertial torque leads to notable clustering, with its intensity depending on the swimming and settling speeds of swimmers. By Voronoï analysis, we demonstrate that swimmers preferentially sample downwelling regions where clustering is more prevalent.

Jingran Qiu et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-911', Anonymous Referee #1, 16 Aug 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Jingran Qiu, 11 Oct 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-911', Anonymous Referee #2, 02 Sep 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Jingran Qiu, 11 Oct 2023

Jingran Qiu et al.

Jingran Qiu et al.


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Short summary
Clustering is a vital phenomenon for planktonic microorganisms, which is related to their predation and mating. We develop a Lagrangian model for plankton micro-swimmers to consider the effect of fluid inertial torque on their motion. This torque is recently reported to drive micro-swimmers to swim against gravity. We use direct numerical simulation to analyze the how fluid inertial torque causes phenomena of clustering and preferential sampling of specific flow regions for micro-swimmers.