Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 180, Issue 2, pp 189–198 | Cite as

Respiratory and digestive responses of postprandial Dungeness crabs, Cancer magister, and blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus, during hyposaline exposure

  • Daniel L. CurtisEmail author
  • Iain J. McGaw
Original Paper


Respiratory responses and gastric processing were examined during hyposaline exposure in two crab species of differing osmoregulatory ability. The efficient osmoregulator, Callinectes sapidus, displayed an immediate increase in oxygen uptake when exposed to low salinity in isolation. In contrast, the weak osmoregulator, Cancer magister, showed no change in oxygen uptake upon acute exposure (<6 h), but slight increases in oxygen uptake tended to occur over longer time scales (12–24 h). These changes were likely attributable to an increase in avoidance activity after 6 h hyposaline exposure. Following feeding in 100% SW, oxygen uptake doubled for both species and remained elevated for 15 h. When postprandial crabs were exposed to low salinities, C. sapidus were able to sum the demands of osmoregulation and digestion. Thus, gastric processes continued unabated in low salinity. Conversely, postprandial C. magister prioritized responses to low salinity over those of digestion, resulting in a decrease in oxygen uptake when exposed to low salinity. This decrease in oxygen uptake corresponded to a reduction in the rate of contraction of the pyloric stomach and a subsequent doubling of gastric evacuation time. The current study is one of the few to illustrate how summation or prioritization of competing physiological systems is manifested in digestive processes.


Crab Crustacean Digestion Osmoregulation Salinity 



We wish to thank the director and staff of the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre for use of facilities. This work was supported by an NSF grant (IBN #0313765) to IJM and an NSERC PGS-D to DLC.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Life SciencesUniversity of Nevada, Las VegasLas VegasUSA
  2. 2.Bamfield Marine Sciences CentreBamfieldCanada
  3. 3.Ocean Sciences CentreMemorial UniversitySt John’sCanada

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