Biological rhythms are a widespread feature of living organisms, being expressed at any level of their organization. Behavioral and physiological rhythms can affect the results on species stock assessment when the timing of sampling is not taken into account. That timing is of importance since animals may be present or not in a certain area of sampling depending on their activity cycle. As an example of this, the rhythmic behavior and physiology of one of the most commercially important European decapods, the Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) was studied. These rhythms affect its commercial catchability at a diel and at a seasonal scale. Nephrops inhabits muddy bottoms where animals dig burrows that save them from the trawl tow capture when occupied. Catch patterns have been widely used as proxy of activity rhythms of populations of different depths. Catches show a modulation upon the day-night cycle since animals emerge under optimum environmental illumination in order to feed. Emergence is also affected in a not fully clarified manner by other variables of environmental and demographic nature (e.g. food presence, hunger state, sex, size, reproductive stage, territorialism and mating). All these features make Nephrops a good model of reference for studies on biological rhythms of other commercially important deep water decapods in relation to their ecological context. In this review, we summarize the actual knowledge on Nephrops behavioral and physiological rhythms. We will compare data obtained from laboratory tests on single individuals with data obtained from trawling of populations of different depths. We will also describe some new hypotheses on the rhythmic regulation of the species behaviour, as well as potential scenarios for future research.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 12, 2007
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