Disentangling defense: The function of spiny lobster sounds

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The function of anti-predator signalling is a complex, and often-overlooked, area of animal communication. The goal of this study was to examine the behavioural function of an antipredator acoustic signal in the ocean. We observed the acoustic and defensive behaviours of California spiny lobsters (Palinuridae: Panulirus interruptus) to a model predator, model conspecific and blank pole, both in the tank and in the field. We found that P. interruptus make a 'rasp' sound once physically contacted by an aggressor, rather than during the approach. The model predator and conspecific elicited no discernable changes in defensive behaviour, but the responses by the lobsters to aggressors in the tank versus field were distinct. Our results indicate that the spiny lobster's rasp is used as a startle or aposematic signal, which may be coupled with visual aposematism of their spines. Alternatively, the rasp may function as a vibratory escape mechanism or as an acoustic analogue to eye-spots. This study offers insights into the role of acoustic signalling in the marine environment and demonstrates a central role for sound production in spiny lobster ecology. © 2009 Brill.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Staaterman, ER; Claverie, T; Patek, SN

Published Date

  • January 1, 2010

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 147 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 235 - 258

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1568-539X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0005-7959

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1163/000579509X12523919243428

Citation Source

  • Scopus