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Moon orientation in sandhoppers: effects of lighting treatments on the persistence of orientation ability
Papi, F.; Gagliardo, A.; Meschini, E. (2007). Moon orientation in sandhoppers: effects of lighting treatments on the persistence of orientation ability. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 150(5): 953-965.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162; e-ISSN 1432-1793, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Papi, F.
  • Gagliardo, A.
  • Meschini, E.

    The moon orientation rhythm persists in sandhoppers removed from environmental entrainments relative to moon periodicity. In order to investigate the underlying mechanism, the crustacean amphipods Talorchestia capensis and Talitrus saltator were collected at new moon and exposed in the laboratory to an artificial light during the day, but to a variety of lighting treatments during the night: (1) continuous dark, (2) dim light in phase with the natural moon, (3) continuous dim light. The animals were tested under the moon 9–21 days later by using a new type of arena. The ability to orientate in a direction perpendicular to the shore persisted in sandhoppers under treatments 1 and 2, but not under treatment 3. A disturbance due to a phototactic tendency in Talorchestia was also observed in animals captured on the day of the test when exposed to unnatural lighting, but not when they were kept under natural light. The present findings show that the timing mechanism allowing compensation for changes in the moon’s position also persists in animals that have been long removed from entraining factors. The dependence of this orientation ability on nocturnal lighting and the disturbing effect of sudden changes in light intensity support the idea that the phasal lighting of the moon, and perhaps sunrise and sunset act as resetting factors for the moon’s orientation rhythm.

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