Navigating the Benthic Reef Orientation in Stomatopod Crustaceans

Meeting Abstract

P2-170  Friday, Jan. 6 15:30 – 17:30  Navigating the Benthic Reef: Orientation in Stomatopod Crustaceans PATEL, RN*; CRONIN, TW; University of Maryland Baltimore County; University of Maryland Baltimore County

Stomatopods are predatory marine crustaceans renowned for their ballistic strikes and complex visual systems. These animals commonly inhabit holes and crevices in the benthic substrates of marine environments for use as burrows, where they may reside safely concealed from their predators. However, stomatopods forage at extended distances from these burrows before returning back to their homes. This raises the question, how do stomatopods navigate back to their burrows efficiently to limit the risk of predation? Many other central place foragers from a wide taxonomic breadth update their position relative to their point of departure in order to produce a self-generated home vector with which to find the point of departure with the greatest economy. This process, termed path integration, is likely to be used by stomatopods as well. Also, piloting, the process by which an animal follows a landmark or chain of landmarks to a goal, is a likely strategy these benthic organisms use in their structurally complex reef environments. To experimentally determine if these mechanisms are employed, Neogonodactylus bredini were placed in featureless circular arenas in a glass roofed greenhouse, with their burrows submerged from view. Foraging paths in the presence and absence of a landmark adjacent to the burrow were recorded. Initial data suggests that return trips in the presence of the landmark are more direct than trips in the landmark’s absence. However, the initial direction of the return trips were generally oriented towards the burrow regardless of the presence or absence of the landmark. These results indicate that N. bredini may use an integrated compass to determine the direction of its home vector as well as pilot towards landmarks to find its burrow. Additional data must be collected to determine the significance of these results.

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