Dynamic visual noise has limited influence on the habitat selection and behavioural activity of crustaceans and cephalopods

Christian Drerup*, Martin J How, James E Herbert-Read

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Environments contain various forms of noise that can interfere with the ability of animal sensory systems to perceive information. One ubiquitous type of visual noise in shallow aquatic habitats is caustic flicker (or caustics), consisting of dynamically moving light patterns caused by the refraction of light when passing through the water's rippling surface. While some teleost fish avoid environments with caustic noise (where their prey can be more difficult to detect), it remains untested whether caustics affect the habitat selection of invertebrates. In the present study, we ask whether three invertebrate species, the shore crab Carcinus maenas, the brown shrimp Crangon crangon, and the common cuttlefish Sepia officinalis, prefer or avoid associating with environments with caustic noise, and whether caustics affect their behavioural activity and habitat exploration. To do this, we exposed the three species in binary choice experiments to different simulated caustic noise levels varying in their temporal (speed) and spatial (definition) components. Neither of the three tested invertebrate species spent more or less time in environments with higher caustic noise levels. While we also found no evidence that caustics affected the behavioural activity and exploration of Ca. maenas and S. officinalis, the brown shrimp Cr. crangon reduced its activity with increasing spatial caustic noise. However, all obtained effect sizes in this study were small, suggesting that caustic noise only minimally affects invertebrate behaviour. Overall, our results show that, unlike in teleost fish, caustics have limited influence on the habitat selection, exploration, and activity of crustaceans and cephalopods.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13432
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank A. Harvey, E. Sullivan, E. Stuart, and K. Atkins at the Marine Biological Association (Plymouth, UK) for their support with cuttlefish husbandry and on‐site logistics. CD was supported by a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) C‐CLEAR PhD studentship (NE/S007164/1), a Cambridge Trust European Scholarship, and a Research Award from the Malacological Society of London. MJH was supported by the Royal Society (URF\R\201021). JEH‐R was supported by the Whitten Programme in Tropical and Aquatic Biology, a Swedish Research Council grant (2018‐04076), and the Office of Naval Research Global (N62909‐21‐1‐2005). For the purpose of open access, the authors have applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any author accepted version arising from this submission.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Ethology published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.


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