Aquatic versus terrestrial attachment: Water makes a difference


By Adam Summers and Petra Ditsche, in Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology

Animal attachment to a substrate is very different in terrestrial and aquatic environments. We discuss variations in both the forces acting to detach animals and forces of attachment. While in a terrestrial environment gravity is commonly understood as the most important detachment force, under submerged conditions gravity is nearly balanced out by buoyancy and therefore matters little. In contrast, flow forces such as drag and lift are of higher importance in an aquatic environment. Depending on the flow conditions, flow forces can reach much higher values than gravity and vary in magnitude and direction. For many of the attachment mechanisms (adhesion including glue, friction, suction and mechanical principles such as hook, lock, clamp and spacer) significant differences have to be considered under water. For example, the main principles of dry adhesion, van der Waals forces and chemical bonding…

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