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Stranding and matting behaviour in Nyctiphanes australis (Euphausiidae: Crustacea)

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Numerous stranding events of the euphausiid Nyctiphanes australis Sars on the coast of south-east Tasmania during the winter months of 1984/1985 are documented. The krill were at a reproductive stage of their life cycle. Strandings almost always occurred on calm, sunny days on beaches with a northerly aspect. Typically, barometric pressure was greater than and wind speed was less than the monthly average. No significant differences were found between stranded euphausiids and those from surface swarms, and the relationship between the two forms of behaviour in this area is discussed. A new form of behaviour termed “matting” was observed, in which the euphausiids aggregate dorsal-side down on the substrate in shallow water. Matting usually occurs synchronously with stranding. Laboratory experiments showed that N. australis responds to changes in both the plane of polarization and intensity of light with behaviour typical of that observed in stranding and matting events. Light appears to be a key factor mediating these types of behaviour. Hypotheses for the relationship between stranding and matting are offered.

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Communicated by G. F. Humphrey, Sydney

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O'Brien, D.P., Ritz, D.A. & Kirkwood, R.J. Stranding and matting behaviour in Nyctiphanes australis (Euphausiidae: Crustacea). Marine Biology 93, 465–473 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00401115

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  • Life Cycle
  • Wind Speed
  • Beach
  • Laboratory Experiment
  • Shallow Water