An ethogram of body patterning behavior in the biomedically and commercially valuable squid Loligo pealei off Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Roger T. Hanlon, Michael R. Maxwell, Nadav Shashar, Ellis R. Loew, Kim Laura Boyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations

Abstract

Squids have a wide repertoire of body patterns; these patterns contain visual signals assembled from a highly diverse inventory of chromatic, postural, and locomotor components. The chromatic components reflect the activity of dermal chromatophore organs that, like the postural and locomotor muscles, are controlled directly from the central nervous system. Because a thorough knowledge of body patterns is fundamental to an understanding of squid behavior, we have compiled and described an ethogram (a catalog of body patterns and associated behaviors) for Loligo pealei. Observations of this species were made over a period of three years (≰40 h) and under a variety of behavioral circumstances. The natural behavior of the squid was filmed on spawning grounds off Cape Cod (northwestern Atlantic), and behavioral trials in the laboratory were run in large tanks. The body pattern components - 34 chromatic (including 4 polarization components), 5 postural, and 12 locomotor - are each described in detail. Eleven of the most common body patterns are also described. Four of them are chronic, or long-lasting, patterns for crypsis; an example is Banded Bottom Sitting, which produces disruptive coloration against the substrate. The remaining sewn patterns are acute; they are mostly used in intraspecific communication among spawning squids. Two of these acute patterns - Lateral Display and Mate Guarding Pattern - are used during agonistic bouts and mate guarding; they are visually bright and conspicuous, which may subject the squids to predation; but we hypothesize that schooling and diurnal activity may offset the disadvantage presented by increased visibility to predators. The rapid changeability and the diversity of body patterns used for crypsis and communication are discussed in the context of the behavioral ecology of this species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-62
Number of pages14
JournalBiological Bulletin
Volume197
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1999
Externally publishedYes

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