Characterising crustacean behaviour in response to conspecific chemical cues contributes to our evolving knowledge of the drivers of their social behaviour. There is particular interest in understanding the chemical and behavioural mechanisms contributing to cannibalism at ecdysis, as this behaviour substantially limits culture productivity of several commercially important crustaceans. Before investigating the role of chemoreception in cannibalism of moulting crustaceans, we must investigate its role in detecting moulting conspecifics. Here we use a two-current choice flume to observe juvenile tropical rock lobster (Panulirus ornatus) behavioural response to conspecific moulting cues and identifying attracted and avoidant behaviours correlating to moult stage and social relationship. Observed cue preferences show inter-moult juveniles are attracted to the moulting cues of lobsters to which they are socially naïve. In contrast, post-moult and inter-moult juveniles avoid the moulting cues of individuals whom they are socially familiar with. Average speed and total distance travelled by lobsters increases in response to conspecific moulting cues. This study demonstrates the suitability of a two-current choice flume for behavioural assays in (P. ornatus) and characterises clear behavioural patterns in juveniles exposed to conspecific moulting cues. This provides important framework for understanding the role of chemical communication in eliciting cannibalism.
Research Hub Investigator(s)
Kelly, T.R., Fitzgibbon, Q.P., Giosio, D.R., Trotter, A.J. and Smith, G.G., 2022. Development of a two-current choice flume behavioural bioassay for juvenile (Panulirus ornatus) response to moulting cues. Scientific Reports, 12(1), p.21474.
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