Malacostracan crustaceans such as crabs flick antennae with arrays of olfactory sensilla called aesthetascs through the water to sense odors. Flicking by crabs consists of a quick downstroke, in which aesthetascs are deflected laterally (splayed), and a slower, reversed return stroke, in which aesthetascs clump together. This motion causes water to be flushed within and then held in between aesthetascs to deliver odor molecules to olfactory receptors. Although this odor sampling method relies on a narrow range of speeds, sizes, and specific arrangements of aesthetascs, most crabs dramatically change these during ontogeny. In this study, the morphometrics of the aesthetascs, array, and antennae and the flicking kinematics of the Oregon shore crab, Hemigrapsus oregonensis (Decapoda: Brachyura), are examined to determine their scaling relationships during ontogeny. The morphometrics of the array and antennae increase more slowly than would be predicted by isometry. Juvenile crabs’ aesthetascs splay relatively further apart than adults, likely due to changing material properties of aesthetasc cuticle during growth. These results suggest that disproportionate growth and altered aesthetasc splay during flicking will mediate the size changes due to growth that would otherwise lead to a loss of function.
L.D. Waldrop. 2013. Ontogenetic scaling of the olfactory antennae and flicking behavior of the shore crab, Hemigrapsus oregonensis. Chemical Senses 38(6): 541-550. https://doi.org/10.1093/chemse/bjt024
Oxford University Press