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Chromogenic behaviors of the Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas) studied in situ with an animal-borne video package
Rosen, H.; Gilly, W.; Bell, L.; Abernathy, K.; Marshall, G. (2015). Chromogenic behaviors of the Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas) studied in situ with an animal-borne video package. J. Exp. Biol. 218(2): 265-275. http://hdl.handle.net/10.1242/jeb.114157
In: Journal of Experimental Biology. Cambridge University Press: London. ISSN 0022-0949, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Behavior; Dosidicus gigas (d'Orbigny [in 1834-1847], 1835) [WoRMS]; Marine
Author keywords
    Cephalopod; Chromatophore; Flashing; Signaling; Flickering; Crypsis

Authors  Top 
  • Rosen, H.
  • Gilly, W.
  • Bell, L.
  • Abernathy, K.
  • Marshall, G.

Abstract
    Dosidicus gigas (Humboldt or jumbo flying squid) is an economically and ecologically influential species, yet little is known about its natural behaviors because of difficulties in studying this active predator in its oceanic environment. By using an animal-borne video package, National Geographic's Crittercam, we were able to observe natural behaviors in free-swimming D. gigas in the Gulf of California with a focus on color-generating (chromogenic) behaviors. We documented two dynamic displays without artificial lighting at depths of up to 70 m. One dynamic pattern, termed 'flashing' is characterized by a global oscillation (2–4 Hz) of body color between white and red. Flashing was almost always observed when other squid were visible in the video frame, and this behavior presumably represents intraspecific signaling. Amplitude and frequency of flashing can be modulated, and the phase relationship with another squid can also be rapidly altered. Another dynamic display termed 'flickering' was observed whenever flashing was not occurring. This behavior is characterized by irregular wave-like activity in neighboring patches of chromatophores, and the resulting patterns mimic reflections of down-welled light in the water column, suggesting that this behavior may provide a dynamic type of camouflage. Rapid and global pauses in flickering, often before a flashing episode, indicate that flickering is under inhibitory neural control. Although flashing and flickering have not been described in other squid, functional similarities are evident with other species.

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