Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 17, Issue 7, pp 1293–1307 | Cite as

Chemical orientation of lobsters, homarus americanus, in turbulent odor plumes

  • Paul A. Moore
  • Nat Scholz
  • Jelle Atema


The lobster,Homarus americanus, relies upon its lateral antennules to make initial directional choices in a turbulent odor plume. To determine whether chemical signals provide cues for source direction and distance during orientation, we studied the search patterns of the lobster orienting within a turbulent odor plume. In an odor plume, animals walked significantly more slowly and most often up the middle of the tank; control animals (no odor present) walked rapidly in straight lines, frequently along a wall. Search patterns were not stereotyped either for the population of experimental animals or for individuals. Three different phases of orientation were evident: an initial stage during which the animals increased their walking speeds and decreased their heading angles; an intermediate stage where both the walking speed and headings were constant; and the final stage close to the source, where heading angles increased while walking speed decreased. During this last stage the animals appear to be switching from a distance orientation (mediated by the antennules) to a local food search (mediated by the walking legs) as evidenced by a great increase in leg-raking behavior.

Key Words

Chemotaxis chemoreception orientation lobster Homarus americanus odor plume 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul A. Moore
    • 1
  • Nat Scholz
    • 1
  • Jelle Atema
    • 1
  1. 1.Marine Biological LaboratoryBoston University Marine ProgramWoods Hole

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