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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 227:173-186 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/meps227173

Mechanical and neural responses from the mechanosensory hairs on the antennule of Gaussia princeps

D. M. Fields*, D. S. Shaeffer, M. J. Weissburg

Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Biology, 310 Ferst Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30332, USA

ABSTRACT: This study investigated the physical and physiological response of individual setae on the antennule of Gaussia princeps. We found significant differences in the physical and physiological responses of the setae to various intensities of water flow. No physiological evidence was found to suggest that individual setae are dually innervated; however, directional bias in both the displacement and subsequent physiological responses was evident. Although more easily displaced by fluid flow, the shortest hairs were physiologically less sensitive to angular deflection than were the longer setae, so that slow flows produced a greater neural response in the long seta. The combination of high resistance to movement and acute physiological sensitivity allows the long seta to respond to biologically driven, low-intensity flows while filtering out high-frequency background noise. This suggests that the most prominent, long, distal setae function as low-flow detectors whereas the short hairs respond to more rapid fluid motion. Each seta responds to only a portion of the overall range of water velocity in the copepod¹s habitat. Thus, the entire sensory appendage, which consists of an ensemble of setae of different morphologies and lengths, may function as a unit to code the intensity and directionality of complex fluid disturbances.

KEY WORDS: Crustacean · Mechanoreception · Neurophysiology · Sensory perception · Fluid mechanical signals

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