Faculty Advisor

Brett Klaassen van Oorschot, Rachel E. Pepper

Area of Study

Science and Mathematics

Publication Date

Summer 2022


Vorticella convallaria are microscopic sessile suspension feeders which live attached to substrates and are ubiquitous in aquatic environments. They depend on a self-generated current to feed and help maintain the health of aquatic ecosystems by consuming bacteria and detritus. As highly prevalent filter feeders, they serve as biological indicators of ecosystem health and are heavily involved in nutrient and carbon cycling. Furthermore, they are essential to wastewater treatment and benefit bioremediation efforts. However, the conditions in which they collectively thrive and feed most effectively are not well known. We exposed organisms to a circulating flume containing four distinct unidirectional flow regimes of different speeds. Initial results suggest that organisms are significantly more abundant in the slow speeds, in which they are less pushed over and may feed more effectively. Vorticella remained more abundant in the slowest flow speed over time, and became more abundant when the order of flow regimes was reversed (transforming a fast flow regime into one with a slower speed), indicative of selective preference.


biophysics, fluid dynamics, wastewater, filter feeders


University of Puget Sound