Kari L. Long*; Paul A. Moore: Attraction To Maternal Odor By Juvenile Crayfish, Orconectes rusticus
Chemical odor cues have been found to play an important role in the behavior and ecology of several species of juvenile organisms, including crayfish. In crayfish, cannibalism occurs among juveniles of different broods, therefore chemical signals that can convey maternal status may be important for protection. The aim of this study is to identify the role that maternal odor plays in the life of the juvenile crayfish, Orconectes rusticus. Past research has shown that young crayfish are attracted to chemical odors produced by any ovigerous female that is not necessarily genetically related. Research also demonstrates that crayfish in the third stage of development, when recently separated from their mother, seek aid from her, acquiring protection when confronted by an unfamiliar chemical source. Our study tests whether juvenile crayfish are attracted to maternal odors and whether non-maternal odors are aversive. The third stage juveniles were isolated and tested in groups of three individuals selected from the same brood in a Y-maze containing the paired chemical cues of two adults or various controls. The variable measured was the time spent by each juvenile in both sides of a Y-maze. Our results suggest that an attraction to maternal odor exists for juvenile crayfish. These results indicate that juvenile crayfish may have the ability to discriminate between maternal and non-related female chemical cues.