Exoskeleton weapons and defenses in crustacean conflicts

January 3 – Febuary 28, 2021

Meeting Abstract

S3-12  Mon Jan 4 18:30 – 19:00  Exoskeleton weapons and defenses in crustacean conflicts Taylor, JRA*; Lowder, K; deVries, M; University of California, San Diego; NOAA; San Jose State University j3taylor@ucsd.edu

Contests in the crustacean world are fought with a range of exoskeletal weapons, including crab claws, mantis shrimp raptorial appendages, shrimp rostrums, and lobster antennae. When used with effective fighting behavior, the quality of these weapons can determine the winners of contests. Consequently, weapons are focal in behavioral and biomechanical research, with defenses being important, but less studied. The challenges of studying the biomechanics of dynamic fighting behavior have led to simplified assessments of weapon and defense capabilities that do not necessarily reflect their use in natural contests. A holistic approach would provide a deeper understanding of these complex interactions. First, weapons and defense structures should be examined as whole structures and with appropriate mechanical tests. Cuticle has been examined extensively for its contributing properties, but the construction and mechanical behavior of the whole structure is more functionally relevant. Using appropriate mechanical tests and finite element modeling that mimic how the structure is used during contests would reveal how structures function in fighting behavior. Second, applying technologies to measure in vivo forces during conflicts could reveal a more realistic use and matching of weapons and defenses. Currently, most studies focus on maximum forces produced or resisted, which do not necessarily reflect the forces exchanged during fights. Lastly, assessing the effects of environmental conditions on weapon and defense architecture is important, because construction of the exoskeleton is demonstrably responsive to parameters such as ocean pH, temperature, pollutants, etc. Environmental conditions may affect the biomechanics of weapons and defenses in ways that influence contest behavior and outcomes.

the Society for
Integrative &