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Behavioural responses of the yellow emitting annelid Tomopteris helgolandica to photic stimuli
Gouveneaux, A.; Gielen, M.-C.; Mallefet, J (2018). Behavioural responses of the yellow emitting annelid Tomopteris helgolandica to photic stimuli. Luminescence 33(3): 511-520.
In: Luminescence. Wiley: Chichester, Sussex, UK. ISSN 1522-7235; e-ISSN 1522-7243, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

    Luminescence > Bioluminescence
    Tomopteris helgolandica Greeff, 1879 [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    fundamental; spectral colour

Authors  Top 
  • Gouveneaux, A., more
  • Gielen, M.-C., more
  • Mallefet, J, more

    In contrast to most mesopelagic bioluminescent organisms specialised in the emission and reception of blue light, the planktonic annelid Tomopteris helgolandica produces yellow light. This unusual feature has long been suggested to serve for intraspecific communication. Yet, this virtually admitted hypothesis has never been tested. In this behavioural study of spectral colour sensitivity, we first present an illustrated repertoire of the postures and action patterns described by captive specimens. Then video tracking and motion analysis are used to quantify the behavioural responses of singled out worms to photic stimuli imitating intraspecific (yellow) or interspecific (blue) bioluminescent signals. We show the ability of T. helgolandica to react and to contrast its responses to bioluminescent-like blue and yellow light signals. In particular, the attractive effect of yellow light and the variation of angular velocity observed according to the pattern of yellow stimuli (flashes versus glows) support the intraspecific communication hypothesis. However, given the behavioural patterns of T. helgolandica, including mechanically induced light emission, the possibility that bioluminescence may be part of escape/defence responses to predation, should remain an open question.

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