Morphological colour change in the American lobster (Homarus americanus) in response to background colour and UV light

Citation:
Tlusty, MF, Metzler A, Huckabone S, Suanda S, Guerrier S.  2009.  Morphological colour change in the American lobster (Homarus americanus) in response to background colour and UV light. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research. 43:247-255.: Taylor & Francis

Date Published:

2009/03

Abstract:

Abstract American lobster (Homarus americanus) have a thick calcified cuticle, and do not exhibit rapid colour changes characteristic of other crustaceans. Thus, the plasticity of their coloration has been largely overlooked. Colour in lobsters is determined by the amount, location, and form of the carotenoid pigment astaxanthin, and it is possible for lobsters to alter colour by changing one of these characteristics of astaxanthin deposition. Here, short?term colour variation in American lobster in response to environmental cues (background colour and ultraviolet (UV) light) was investigated in a laboratory experiment. Lobsters were reared in conditions controlling background colour (white, black) and UV light (present, absent). Digital photographic analysis was used to determine how these conditions influenced the luminescence (light or dark) of lobster colour, as well as the ratio of red to blue hues. Of the environmental variables considered within this experiment, UV light was the predominant factor, and caused lobsters to become darker in colour. In the absence of UV light, lobsters matched background colour, and turned darker in response to the darker background. Environmental matching has practical implications both for wild lobsters as they settle to the benthic habitat, and for enhancement programmes, to grow lobsters that are best suited for local habitats.American lobster (Homarus americanus) have a thick calcified cuticle, and do not exhibit rapid colour changes characteristic of other crustaceans. Thus, the plasticity of their coloration has been largely overlooked. Colour in lobsters is determined by the amount, location, and form of the carotenoid pigment astaxanthin, and it is possible for lobsters to alter colour by changing one of these characteristics of astaxanthin deposition. Here, short?term colour variation in American lobster in response to environmental cues (background colour and ultraviolet (UV) light) was investigated in a laboratory experiment. Lobsters were reared in conditions controlling background colour (white, black) and UV light (present, absent). Digital photographic analysis was used to determine how these conditions influenced the luminescence (light or dark) of lobster colour, as well as the ratio of red to blue hues. Of the environmental variables considered within this experiment, UV light was the predominant factor, and caused lobsters to become darker in colour. In the absence of UV light, lobsters matched background colour, and turned darker in response to the darker background. Environmental matching has practical implications both for wild lobsters as they settle to the benthic habitat, and for enhancement programmes, to grow lobsters that are best suited for local habitats.

Notes:

n/a

Website

DOI:

10.1080/00288330909509998