Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 180, Issue 5, pp 653–660 | Cite as

Physiological and behavioural responses to seasonal changes in environmental temperature in the Australian spiny crayfish Euastacus sulcatus

  • Katrin Lowe
  • Sean FitzGibbon
  • Frank Seebacher
  • Robbie S. WilsonEmail author
Original Paper


The strategies used by ectotherms to minimise the detrimental effects of suboptimal thermal environments on physiological performance are often related to whether they inhabit a terrestrial or aquatic environment. Most terrestrial ectotherms use thermoregulatory strategies to maintain body temperature within an optimal range, while many aquatic ectotherms utilise thermal acclimation to maintain performance over varying seasonal temperatures. This study aimed to elucidate the relative contributions of acclimation and behavioural thermoregulation to maintaining whole-animal performance over varying seasonal temperatures in the semi-terrestrial Lamington spiny crayfish (Euastacus sulcatus). Crayfish activity and surface temperatures were determined by means of radio tracking and behavioural observations. Field studies demonstrated that E. sulcatus is exposed to stable daily temperatures, varying only between seasons from 10°C in late winter to over 20°C in summer. Also, terrestrial behaviour corresponded to a small portion of crayfish time (1.13%), much lower than predicted, indicating that E. sulcatus has limited opportunity for behavioural thermoregulation. We also tested the effect of acclimation to either 10 or 20°C on chela strength and stamina. We found acclimation had a more marked effect on chela stamina than maximum strength measures; however, overall acclimatory capacity was limited in E. sulcatus. Thus, we found that the semi-terrestrial crayfish E. sulcatus used neither thermoregulatory behaviours nor physiological strategies to deal with seasonal changes in environmental temperature.


Performance Crayfish Acclimation 



We thank Peter Kennedy for allowing us to utilise his property for tracking and collection of crayfish. We also thank the many volunteers that assisted with field work and Stewart Macdonald for generously giving time and effort into this project.


  1. Angilletta MJ, Niewiarowski PH, Navas CA (2002) The evolution of thermal physiology in ectotherms. J Therm Biol 27:249–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angilletta MJ Jr, Bennett AF, Guderley H, Navas CA, Seebacher F, Wilson RS (2006) Coadaptation: a unifying principle in evolutionary thermal biology. Physiol Biochem Zool 79:282–294CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Beddow TA, Vanleeuwen JL, Johnston IA (1995) Swimming kinematics of fast starts are altered by temperature acclimation in the marine fish Myoxocephalus scorpius. J Exp Biol 198:203–208PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bennett AF (1990) Thermal dependence of locomotor capacity. Am J Physiol 259:R253–R258PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bennett AF, Huey RB (1990) Studying the evolution of physiological performance. In: Futuyma D, Antonovics J (eds) Oxford surveys in evolutionary biology. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Bovbjerg RV (1953) Dominance order in the crayfish, Orconectes virilis (Hagen). Physiol Zool 26:173–178Google Scholar
  7. Bovbjerg RV (1956) Some factors affecting aggressive behaviour in crayfish. Physiol Zool 29:127–136Google Scholar
  8. Boyer DR (1965) Ecology of the basking habit in turtles. Ecology 46:99–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bubb DH, Lucas MC, Thom TJ (2002) Winter movements and activity of signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus in an upland river, determined by radio telemetry. Hydrobiologia 483:111–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bywater C, Angilletta MJ, Wilson RS (2008) Weapon size is a reliable predictor of weapon strength and social dominance in females of the slender crayfish. Funct Ecol 22:311–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Crawshaw LI (1983) Effects of thermal acclimation and starvation on temperature selection and activity in the crayfish, Orconectes immunis. Comp Biochem Physiol A 74:475–477CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Else PL, Bennett AF (1987) The thermal dependence of locomotor performance and muscle contractile function in the salamander Ambystoma tigrinum nebulosum. J Exp Biol 128:219–233PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Espina S, Diaz Herrera F, Buckle RLF (1993) Preferred and avoided temperatures in the crawfish Procambarus clarkii (Decapoda, Cambaridae). J Therm Biol 18:35–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Furse JM, Wild CH (2004a) Instream and terrestrial movement of Euastacus sulcatus in the Gold Coast hinterland: developing and testing a method of accessing freshwater crayfish movements. Freshw Crayfish 14:212–220Google Scholar
  15. Furse JM, Wild CH (2004b) Laboratory moult increment, frequency and growth in Euastacus sulcatus, the Lamington spiny crayfish. Freshw Crayfish 14:205–211Google Scholar
  16. Gabbanini F, Gherardi F, Vannini M (1995) Force and dominance in the agonistic behavior of the freshwater crab Potamon fluviatile. Aggress Behav 21:451–462CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gabriel W (1999) Evolution of reversible plastic responses: inducible defenses and environmental tolerance. In: Harvell CD, Tollrian R (eds) The ecology and evolution of inducible defenses. Princeton University Press, Princeton, pp 286–305Google Scholar
  18. Gabriel W (2005) How stress selects for reversible phenotypic plasticity. J Evol Biol 18:873–883CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Glanville EJ, Seebacher F (2006) Compensation for environmental change by complementary shifts of thermal sensitivity and thermoregulatory behaviour in an ectotherm. J Exp Biol 209:4869–4877CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Hammill E, Wilson RS, Johnston IA (2004) Sustained swimming performance and muscle structure are altered by thermal acclimation in male mosquitofish. J Therm Biol 29:251–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Huey RB, Berrigan DA (2001) Temperature, demography, and ectotherm fitness. Am Nat 158:204–210CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Huey RB, Berrigan D, Gilchrist GW, Herron JC (1999) Testing the adaptive significance of acclimation: a strong inference approach. Am Zool 39:323–336Google Scholar
  23. Johnson TP, Bennett AF (1995) The thermal acclimation of burst escape performance in fish: an integrated study of molecular and cellular physiology and organismal performance. J Exp Biol 198:2165–2175PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Johnston IA, Bennett AF (1996) Animals and temperature: phenotypic and evolutionary adaptation. Cambridge University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Johnston K, Robson BJ (2009) Habitat use by five sympatric Australian freshwater crayfish species (Parastacidae). Freshw Biol 54:1629–1641CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Morgan GJ (1991) The spiny freshwater crayfish of Queensland. Qld Nat 31:29–36Google Scholar
  27. Morgan GJ (1997) Freshwater crayfish of the genus Euastacus Clark (Decapoda: Parastacidae) from New South Whales, with a key to all species of the genus. Rec Aust Mus Suppl 23:1–110Google Scholar
  28. Morris S (2005) Respiratory and acid-base responses during migration and to exercise by the terrestrial crab Discoplax (cardisoma) hirtipes, with regard to season, humidity and behaviour. J Exp Biol 208:4333–4343CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. O’Steen S, Bennett AF (2003) Thermal acclimation effects differ between voluntary, maximum, and critical swimming velocities in two cyprinid fishes. Physiol Biochem Zool 76:484–496CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Ponniah M, Hughes JM (2004) The evolution of Queensland spiny mountain crayfish of the genus Euastacus. I. Testing vicariance and dispersal with interspecific mitochondrial DNA. Evolution 58:1073–1085PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Riek EF (1951) The freshwater crayfish (Family Parastacidae) of Queensland. Records of the Australian Museum 22:368–388Google Scholar
  32. Schauble CS, Grigg GC (1998) Thermal ecology of the Australian agamid Pogona barbata. Oecologia 114:461–470CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Seebacher F (2009) Responses to temperature variation: integration of thermoregulation and metabolism in vertebrates. J Exp Biol 212:2885–2891CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Seebacher F, Grigg GC (2001) Changes in heart rate are important for thermoregulation in the varanid lizard Varanus varius. J Comp Physiol B Biochem Syst Environ Physiol 171:395–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Seebacher F, Wilson RS (2006) Fighting fit: thermal plasticity of metabolic function and fighting success in the crayfish Cherax destructor. Funct Ecol 20:1045–1053CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Seebacher F, Wilson RS (2007) Individual recognition in crayfish (Cherax dispar): the roles of strength and experience in deciding aggressive encounters. Biol Lett 3:471–474CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Sneddon LU, Huntingford FA, Taylor AC, Orr JF (2000) Weapon strength and competitive success in the fights of shore crabs (Carcinus maenas). J Zool 250:397–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wilson RS, Franklin CE (1999) Thermal acclimation of locomotor performance in tadpoles of the frog Limnodynastes peronii. J Comp Physiol B 169:445–451CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Wilson RS, Franklin CE (2000) Inability of adult Limnodynastes peronii (Amphibia: Anura) to thermally acclimate locomotor performance. Comp Biochem Physiol A 127:21–28Google Scholar
  40. Wilson RS, Franklin CE (2002) Testing the beneficial acclimation hypothesis. Trends Ecol Evol 17:66–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wilson RS, James RS, Johnston IA (2000) Thermal acclimation of locomotor performance in tadpoles and adults of the aquatic frog Xenopus laevis. J Comp Physiol B 170:117–124CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Wilson RS, Angilletta MJ, James RS, Navas C, Seebacher F (2007a) Dishonest signals of strength in male slender crayfish (Cherax dispar) during agonistic interactions. Am Nat 170:284–291CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Wilson RS, Hammill E, Johnston IA (2007b) Competition moderates the benefits of thermal acclimation to reproductive performance in male eastern mosquitofish. Proc R Soc Lond Ser B 274:1199–1204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wood CM, Boutilier RG, Randall DJ (1986) The physiology of dehydration stress in the land crab, Cardisoma carnifex: respiration, ionoregulation, acid–base balance and nitrogenous waste excretion. J Exp Biol 126:271–296Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katrin Lowe
    • 1
  • Sean FitzGibbon
    • 1
  • Frank Seebacher
    • 2
  • Robbie S. Wilson
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations