Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 16041533
J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol 2005 Aug; 191(8): 733-46
Arachnids and insects use long, thin hairs as motion sensors to detect signals contained in the movement of the surrounding air. These hairs often form groups with a small spacing of tens to hundreds of micrometers between them. For air oscillation frequencies of biological interest, the potential exists for viscosity-mediated coupling among hairs in a group affecting their response characteristics. Even a small diameter hair can, in principle, affect the flow field around it and the dynamics of the hairs in its neighborhood. The viscosity-mediated coupling between a pair of hairs is investigated here both experimentally and theoretically. The conditions for the existence of the coupling effect, and its magnitude as a function of relevant parameters, are determined. In the range of biologically relevant frequencies (30-300 Hz), viscous coupling between pairs of hairs is only very small in the case of the spider Cupiennius salei. Theoretical analysis points to the relatively large spacing between hairs (20 to 50 hair diameters) and the tuning of the hairs to the above-mentioned frequencies to explain the practical absence of coupling.