The functional nasal anatomy of the pike, Esox lucius L.

Russell J. Garwood, Julia Behnsen, Andrew T. Ramsey, Harriet K. Haysom, Luke J. Dalby, Samuel K. Quilter, James S. Maclaine, Zhijin Wang, Jonathan P.l. Cox

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Olfactory flow in fishes is a little-explored area of fundamental and applied importance. We investigated olfactory flow in the pike, Esox lucius, because it has an apparently simple and rigid nasal region. We characterised olfactory flow by dye visualisation and computational fluid dynamics, using models derived from X-ray micro-computed tomography scans of two preserved specimens. An external current induced a flow of water through the nasal chamber at physiologically relevant Reynolds numbers (200−300). We attribute this externally-induced flow to: the location of the incurrent nostril in a region of high static pressure; the nasal bridge deflecting external flow into the nasal chamber; an excurrent nostril normal to external flow; and viscous entrainment. A vortex in the incurrent nostril may be instrumental in viscous entrainment. Flow was dispersed over the olfactory sensory surface when it impacted on the floor of the nasal chamber. Dispersal may be assisted by: the radial array of nasal folds; a complementary interaction between a posterior nasal fold and the ventral surface of the nasal bridge; and the incurrent vortex. The boundary layer could delay considerably (up to ~ 3 s) odorant transport from the external environment to the nasal region. The drag incurred by olfactory flow was almost the same as the drag incurred by models in which the nasal region had been replaced by a smooth surface. The boundary layer does not detach from the nasal region. We conclude that the nasal bridge and the incurrent vortex are pivotal to olfaction in the pike.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110688
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology
Early online date22 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


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