Respiratory and Circulatory Coordination in Decapod Crustaceans

  • Jerrel L. Wilkens


Two components of the crustacean respiratory system — gill ventilation and perfusion — are required to meet the metabolic requirements for gas exchange. All crustaceans possess some means of moving the external medium past their gas exchange surfaces. In primitive forms such as Hutchinsoniella (Cephalocarida) and Branchionecta (Brachiopoda) the paired thoracic appendages are serially similar and by their paired phase-locked movements these appendages facilitate respiration, locomotion and feeding. In some smaller crustaceans an internal circulatory system to transport oxygen may not be necessary because sufficient gas exchange can occur by diffusion. Decapods and other large crustaceans, on the other hand, depend on a dual hydraulic pumping system to effect gas exchange between the external medium and the blood. In decapods the gills are enclosed within branchial chambers, and scaphognathites, modified portions of the 2nd maxillae located anterior to the gills, pump water or air through the gill chambers. The heart with possible assistance from accessory contractile structures, pumps blood throughout the body and internally perfuses the gills. In this paper I will focus on the scaphognathites and heart as pumps and discuss how these two systems are integrated to meet the range of demands placed on them. Other aspects of this topic are soon to be reviewed (McMahon and Wilkens, in press).


Stroke Volume Shore Crab Dungeness Crab Homarus Americanus Cardiac Ganglion 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerrel L. Wilkens
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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