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International Journal of Zoology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 573802, 16 pages
Research Article

Sensory Systems and Environmental Change on Behavior during Social Interactions

1Department of Biology & Center for Muscle Biology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0225, USA
2Department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences, Benedictine University, Lisle, IL 60532, USA

Received 21 December 2012; Revised 13 March 2013; Accepted 15 March 2013

Academic Editor: Randy J. Nelson

Copyright © 2013 S. M. Bierbower et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The impact of environmental conditions for transmitting sensory cues and the ability of crayfish to utilize olfaction and vision were examined in regards to social interactive behavior. The duration and intensity of interactions were examined for conspecific crayfish with different sensory abilities. Normally, vision and chemosensory have roles in agonistic communication of Procambarus clarkii; however, for the blind cave crayfish (Orconectes australis packardi), that lack visual capabilities, olfaction is assumed to be the primary sensory modality. To test this, we paired conspecifics in water and out of water in the presence and absence of white light to examine interactive behaviors when these various sensory modalities are altered. For sighted crayfish, in white light, interactions occurred and escalated; however, when the water was removed, interactions and aggressiveness decreased, but, there was an increase in visual displays out of the water. The loss of olfaction abilities for blind cave and sighted crayfish produced fewer social interactions. The importance of environmental conditions is illustrated for social interactions among sighted and blind crayfish. Importantly, this study shows the relevance in the ecological arena in nature for species survival and how environmental changes disrupt innate behaviors.