Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Roger Mann

Committee Member

Mark Patterson


Squids are thought to have physiological and locomotive deficiencies that put them at a competitive disadvantage to fishes and exclude them from inshore, highly variable environments that are rich in nektonic fauna. However, brief squid Lolliguncula brevis may be a notable exception. Trawl surveys revealed that L. brevis, particularly juveniles <6 cm dorsal mantle length (DML), are abundant in the Chesapeake Bay, especially when salinity and water temperature are high, and tolerate a wide range of physical conditions relative to other cephalopods. L. brevis is also different from other cephalopods examined previously because its pattern of oxygen consumption as a function of velocity was found to be parabolic and thus similar to aerial flight, and its swimming costs were competitive with ecologically equivalent fishes. Power-speed curves derived from video footage of swimming squid and hydrodynamic force calculations also were parabolic in shape, with high costs both at low and high speeds because of power requirements for lift generation and overcoming drag, respectively. L. brevis employed various behaviors to increase swimming efficiency and compensate for negative buoyancy, such as swimming in various orientations (e.g., arms-first and tail-first), altering angles of attack of the mantle, arms, and funnel, and using fin activity. Fin motion, which could not be characterized exclusively as drag- or lift-based propulsion, was used over 50--95% of the sustained speed range and provided as much as 78% of the vertical and 55% of the horizontal thrust. Small squid (<3.0 cm DML) used different swimming strategies than larger squid possibly to maximize the benefits of toroidal induction, and aerobic efficiency curves indicated that squid 3--5 cm. DML are most efficient. Brief squid also may take advantage of unsteady phenomena, such as attached vortices, for added lift and thrust. Furthermore, an electromyographic study revealed that L. brevis uses different circular muscle layers for various speeds and like fish has muscular "gears", suggesting that there is specialization and efficient use of locomotive muscle in some cephalopods. Therefore, the presumption that squids are inescapably constrained by a second-rate propulsive system and physiological deficiencies is not applicable to L. brevis.



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