Morphology, performance and fluid dynamics of the crayfish escape response

Jocelyn Hunyadi, Todd Currier, Yahya Modarres-Sadeghi, Brooke E. Flammang, Ethan D. Clotfelter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Sexual selection can result in an exaggerated morphology that constrains locomotor performance. We studied the relationship between morphology and the tail-flip escape response in male and female rusty crayfish (Faxonius rusticus), a species in which males have enlarged claws (chelae). We found that females had wider abdomens and longer uropods (terminal appendage of the tail fan) than males, while males possessed deeper abdomens and larger chelae, relative to total length. Chelae size was negatively associated with escape velocity, whereas longer abdomens and uropods were positively associated with escape velocity. We found no sex-specific differences in maximum force generated during the tail flip, but uropod length was strongly, positively correlated with tail-flip force in males. Particle image velocimetry (PIV) revealed that the formation of a vortex, rather than the expulsion of fluid between two closing body surfaces, generates propulsion in rusty crayfish. PIV also revealed that the pleopods (ventral abdominal appendages) contribute to the momentum generated by the tail. To our knowledge, this is the first confirmation of vortex formation in a decapod crustacean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberjeb219873
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


  • Chelae
  • Escape velocity
  • Particle image velocimetry
  • Vortex


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