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ABSTRACT The behavior (total elapsed time of activity and turning rates) of 4 species of talitrid amphipods (the beach fleas Orchestia gammarellus and O. cavimana, the sand hopper Talitrus saltator and the land hopper Arcitalitrus dorrieni) was examined in humidity gradients and in chambers of fixed humidity. Generally, all species showed a preference for the most humid end of humidity gradients (75-95% or 80-100% R.H.), although results for O. gammarellus were complicated by a strong thigmotactic response and overall higher activity when compared with other species. In all species, apart from T. saltator, total activity (and turning) was greater in the lowest R.H. examined (50%), with animals becoming less active with increased humidity and tending toward quiescence in saturated conditions (100% R.H.). In O. gammarellus, hygro-orthokinesis (changes in linear velocity in response to R.H.) was the dominant behavioral mechanism, whereas in O. cavimana hygro-klinokinesis (changes in angular velocity) was more important. Both hygrokineses were important in T. saltator and A. dorrieni, with A. dorrieni having the most developed hygrokinetic responses of the 4 species examined. In T. saltator, results were confused by attempted "burrowing" behavior resulting in the highest activity under saturated conditions. The results support the theory that behavioral adaptations to avoid potentially desiccating conditions are more important than physiological mechanisms to reduce water loss. The results are discussed in relation to the natural habitats of the animals and the colonization of land by the Amphipoda.


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