June 21, 2017
Clues from crustaceans on tidal urges
Auckland University researchers Michael Walker and James Cheeseman have identified evidence that a slater-like crustacean that lives in the sand on Auckland’s Piha beach has a biological clock influenced by not only the day/night cycle but also by tides.
Professor Walker’s earlier research has included looking at how migratory birds detect magnetism and use it to aid navigation.
He says said circalunar and circatidal behaviour in animals was well known by early Maori who followed a fishing and planting calendar over the circalunar cycle.
In the latest study published in the journal Scientific Reports, the pair subjected the nocturnal sand-burrowing isopod Scyphax ornatus to artificially manipulated light and tidal cycles in the laboratory.
They found the animals followed internal biological clocks even when deprived of external stimuli.
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