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The Importance of Vision in Agonistic Communication of the Crayfish Orconectes Rusticus. I: an Analysis of Bout Dynamics

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1. The importance of vision for efficient agonistic communication was investigated in the rusty crayfish, Orconectes rusticus, a species active both day and night. Agonistic bout dynamics were analyzed from isosexual pairs of males and females interacting under moderate (350 lux) and dim (11 lux) light levels, and in complete darkness (using infra-red video recording). Under dim light we determined the effect of visual light and dark adaptation on communication. 2. As light diminished, bouts became less frequent, but longer, and the crayfish invested more time and performed more acts when resolving bouts. Thus, communication efficiency was clearly lower in the dark than under moderate light, for both sexes. Males performed more acts than females overall, and were generally more aggressive than females. 3. The frequency of visually-mediated behaviours (e.g. Lunge, Follow) decreased in the absence oflight, while tactile behaviours (e.g. Antenna Tap, Chela Strike, Push) were performed more frequently. Males especially performed more highly aggressive tactile behaviours in the dark. It was shown that some behaviours previously considered to be visually mediated (e.g. Meral Spread) are also tactually or proprioceptively mediated, and some behaviours assumed to be tactually mediated (e.g. antennal movements) are probably also visually mediated. 4. Under dim light, crayfish with light-adapted eyes resolve bouts more efficiently in terms of time and energy investment than do dark-adapted animals. This is consistent with the effects of pigment migrations during dark adaptation in the crayfish superposition compound eye, which enhance visual sensitivity, but decrease acuity. We suggest that dark adaptation diminishes a crayfishes ability to deal with the subtleties of visual communication, but may well enhance its ability to detect predators.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A1 Canada

10.1163/156853987X00288
/content/journals/10.1163/156853987x00288
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/content/journals/10.1163/156853987x00288
1987-01-01
2016-08-31

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