chemoreception, Crustacea, olfaction


Marine Biology


When attacked by predators, diverse animals actively or passively release molecules that evoke alarm and related anti-predatory behavior by nearby conspecifics. The actively released molecules are alarm pheromones, whereas the passively released molecules are alarm cues. For example, many insects have alarm-signaling systems that involve active release of alarm pheromones from specialized glands and detection of these signals using specific sensors. Many crustaceans passively release alarm cues, but the nature of the cues,sensors and responses is poorly characterized. Here we show in laboratory and field experiments that injured Caribbean spiny lobsters, Panulirus argus, passively release alarm cues via blood (hemolymph) that induce alarm responses in the form of avoidance and suppression of feeding. These cues are detected exclusively through specific olfactory chemosensors,the aesthetasc sensilla. The alarm cues for Caribbean spiny lobsters are not unique to the species but do show some phylogenetic specificity: P. argus responds primarily with alarm behavior to conspecific blood, but with mixed alarm and appetitive behaviors to blood from the congener Panulirus interruptus, or with appetitive behaviors to blood from the blue crab Callinectes sapidus. This study lays the foundation for future neuroethological studies of alarm cue systems in this and other decapod crustaceans.

Original Citation

Shabani, S., Kamio, M., & Derby, C. D. (2008). Spiny lobsters detect conspecific blood-borne alarm cues exclusively through olfactory sensilla. Journal of Experimental Biology, 211(16), 2600–2608.