Chemical Communication in a Multimodal Context



All animals are equipped with multiple sensory systems (e.g., visual, chemical, acoustic, tactile, electrical, thermal), and signals perceived via these sensory systems facilitate communication. Such communication often involves displays that incorporate more than one signal from more than one sensory modality, resulting in multimodal signaling. The number of empirical and theoretical studies addressing issues of multimodal signaling is ever-increasing and this chapter highlights why crustaceans, as a taxonomic group, are ideal for advancing such studies. Early classifications of multimodal signaling sought to categorize signal components as either redundant or nonredundant, while more recent classifications lay out specific hypotheses relating to multimodal signal function. Two common empirical approaches used in studying multimodal signaling involve signal isolation and signal playback designs – both of which are extremely amenable to crustaceans. Chemical communication is considered the oldest and most widespread channel for communication, and as such, it is not surprising that numerous crustaceans incorporate chemical signals into multimodal displays. In this chapter, we review multimodal signaling in crustaceans with a focus on those displays that incorporate a chemical component. Specifically, we highlight examples of taxa that combine chemical and hydrodynamic as well as chemical and visual cues. We conclude that despite the plethora of excellent studies examining crustacean responses to isolated signal components, relatively few studies are couched in a communication framework – ultimately limiting the conclusions that can currently be drawn with respect to multimodal signal evolution and function in crustaceans. We suggest that future studies using a hypothesis-testing framework of multimodal signal function could greatly advance our understanding of multimodal signaling in this group. Furthermore, studies involving signal manipulations and correlations between signaler attributes and variation in signal form could be extremely informative. These avenues are wide open for crustacean biologists. We argue that several aspect of crustacean biology (e.g., their abundance, the ease with which they can be manipulated, the ease with which their environment can be manipulated, their morphological diversity, the diversity of habitats in which they live, etc.) make them ideal for studying multimodal signaling!


Visual Signal Chemical Signal Seismic Signal Hermit Crab Fiddler Crab 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to extend a special thanks to both Martin Thiel and Thomas Breithaupt for the invitation to participate in this book (despite the fact that neither of us knew much of anything at the onset about crustaceans)! We have both learned a tremendous amount and have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know some of the arachnid’s arthropod relatives! We would also like to thank Martin and Thomas for steering us towards relevant literature and for their excellent editorial comments. In addition, we would like to thank John Christy for pointing us in the right direction for acoustical references. We would also like to thank three anonymous reviewers for incredibly insightful and helpful comments. Finally, we would like to thank all of the crustacean researchers for providing stimulating reading!


  1. Acquistapace P, Aquiloni L, Hazlett BA, Gherardi F (2002) Multimodal communication in crayfish: sex recognition during mate search by male Austropotamobius pallipes. Can J Zool 80:2041–2045CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aquiloni L, Gherardi F (2008) Assessing mate size in the red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii: effects of visual versus chemical stimuli. Freshwater Biol 53:461–469CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Atema J (1985) Chemoreception in the sea: adaptations of chemoreceptors and behaviour to aquatic stimulus conditions. Soc Ex Biol Symp 39:386–423Google Scholar
  4. Barron LC, Hazlett BA (1989) Directed currents: a hydrodynamic display in hermit crabs. Mar Behav Physiol 15:83–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bergman DA, Moore PA (2005a) Prolonged exposure to social odours alters subsequent social interactions in crayfish (Orconectes rusticus). Anim Behav 70:311–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bergman DA, Moore PA (2005b) The role of chemical signals in the social behavior of crayfish. Chem Senses 30:i305–i306CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bradbury JW, Vehrencamp SL (1998) Principles of animal communication. Sinauer Associates, MassachusettsGoogle Scholar
  8. Breithaupt T (2001) Fan organs of crayfish enhance chemical information flow. Biol Bull 200:150–154CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Breithaupt T, Eger P (2002) Urine makes the difference: chemical communication in fighting crayfish made visible. J Exp Biol 205:1221–1231PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Bushmann PJ (1999) Concurrent signals and behavioral plasticity in blue crab (Callinectes sapiduss > Rathbun) courtship. Biol Bull 197:63–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Candolin U (2003) The use of multiple cues in mate choice. Biol Rev 78:575–595CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Cate HS, Derby CD (2001) Morphology and distribution of setae on the antennules of the Caribbean spiny lobster Panulirus argus reveal new types of bimodal chemo-mechanosensilla. Cell Tiss Res 304:439–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cate HS, Derby CD (2002) Hooded sensilla homologues: structural variations of a widely distributed bimodal chemomechanosensillum. J Comp Neurol 444:345–357CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Chiussi R, Diaz H (2002) Orientation of the fiddler crab, Uca cumulanta: responses to chemical and visual cues. J Chem Ecol 28:1787–1796CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Chiussi R, Diaz H, Rittschof D, Forward RB (2001) Orientation of the hermit crab Clibanarius antillensis: effects of visual and chemical cues. J Crust Biol 21:593–605CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Christy JH, Salmon M (1991) Comparative-studies of reproductive-behavior in mantis shrimps and fiddler-crabs. Am Zool 31:329–337Google Scholar
  17. Clayton D (2008) Singing and dancing in the ghost crab Ocypode platytarsus (Crustacea, Decapoda, Ocypodidae). J Nat Hist 42:141–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Crook R, Patullo BW, MacMillan DL (2004) Multimodal individual recognition in the crayfish Cherax destructor. Mar Freshwater Behav Physiol 37:271–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Diaz H, Orihuela B, Forward RB, Rittschof D (2001) Effects of chemical cues on visual orientation of juvenile blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus (Rathbun). J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 266:1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Framenau VW, Hebets EA (2007) A review of leg ornamentation in male wolf spiders, with the description of a new species from Australia, Artoria schizocoides (Araneae, Lycosidae). J Arachnol 35:89–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gherardi F, Tiedemann J (2004) Chemical cues and binary individual recognition in the hermit crab Pagurus longicarpus. J Zool 263:23–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gleeson RA (1991) Intrinsic factors mediating pheromone communication in the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus. In: Martin JW, Bauer RT (eds) Crustacean sexual biology. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  23. Guilford T, Dawkins MS (1991) Receiver Psychology and the Evolution of Animal Signals. Anim Behav 42:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hartline PH, Kass L, Loop MS (1978) Merging of modalities in the optic tectum: infrared and visual integration in rattlesnakes. Science 199:1225–1229CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Hazlett BA, McLay C (2000) Contingencies in the behaviour of the crab Heterozius rotundifrons. Anim Behav 59:965–974CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Hebets EA (2005) Attention-altering interaction in the multimodal courtship display of the wolf spider Schizocosa uetzi. Behav Ecol 16:75–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hebets EA (2008) Seismic signal dominance in the multimodal courtship display of the wolf spider Schizocosa stridulans Stratton 1991. Behav Ecol 19:1250–1257CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Hebets EA, Papaj DR (2005) Complex signal function: developing a framework of testable hypotheses. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 57:197–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hebets EA, Uetz GW (2000) Female responses to isolated signals from multimodal male courtship displays in the wolf spider genus Schizocosa (Araneae: Lycosidae). Anim Behav 57:865–872CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Hebets EA, Vink CJ (2007) Experience leads to preference: experienced females prefer brush-legged males in a population of syntopic wolf spiders. Behav Ecol 18:1010–1020CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Herberholz J, Schmitz B (2001) Signaling via water currents in behavioral interactions of snapping shrimp (Alpheus heterochaelis). Biol Bull 201:6–16CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Huang D, Rittschof D, Jeng M (2005) Visual orientation of the symbiotic snapping shrimp Synalpheus demani. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 326:56–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hughes M (1996) The function of concurrent signals: visual and chemical communication in snapping shrimp. Anim Behav 52:247–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Johansson BG, Jones TM (2007) The role of chemical communication in mate choice. Biol Rev 82:265–289CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Johnstone RA (1996) Multiple displays in animal communication: ‘backup signals’ and ‘multiple messages’. Phil Trans Roy Soc Lond Ser B 351:329–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kamio M, Reidenbach MA, Derby CD (2008) To paddle or not: context dependent courtship display by male blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus. J Exp Biol 211:1243–1248CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Leger DW (1993) Contextual sources of information and responses to animal communication signals. Psychol Bull 113:295–304CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. McLain DK, Pratt AE (2007) Approach of females to magnified reflections indicates that claw size of waving fiddler crabs correlates with signaling effectivess. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 343:227–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mellon D (2007) Combining dissimilar senses: central processing of hydrodynamic and chemosensory inputs in aquatic crustaceans. Biol Bull 213:1–11CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Møller AP, Pomiankowski A (1993) Why have birds got multiple sexual ornaments. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 32:167–176Google Scholar
  41. Müller W (1989) Untersuchungen zur akustisch-vibratorischen Kommunikation und Ökologie tropischer und subtropischer Winkerkrabben. Zool Jb Abt Syst Ökol Geogr Tiere 116:47–114Google Scholar
  42. Narins PM, Grabul DS, Soma KK, Gaucher P, Hodl W (2005) Cross-modal integration in a dart-poison frog. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 102:2425–2429CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Newman EA, Hartline PH (1981) Integration of visual and infrared information in bimodal neurons of the rattlesnake optic tectum. Science 213:789–791CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Owings DH, Coss RG (1977) Snake mobbing by California ground squirrels: adaptive variation and ontogeny. Behavior 62:50–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Partan S, Marler P (1999) Behavior - Communication goes multimodal. Science 283:1272–1273CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Partan SR, Marler P (2005) Issues in the classification of multimodal communication signals. Am Nat 166:231–245CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Popper AN, Salmon M, Horch KW (2001) Acoustic detection and communication by decapod crustaceans. J Comp Phys A 187:83–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Reaney LT, Sims RA, Sims SWM, Jennions MD, Backwell PRY (2008) Experiments with robots explain synchronized courtship in fiddler crabs. Curr Biol 18:R62–R63CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Rowe C (1999) Receiver psychology and the evolution of multicomponent signals. Anim Behav 58:921–931CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Rundus AS, Owings DH, Joshi SS, Chinn E, Giannini N (2007) Ground squirrels use an infrared signal to deter rattlesnake predation. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 104:14372–14376CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Simon JL, Moore PA (2007) Male-female communication in the crayfish Orconectes rusticus: the use of urinary signals in reproductive and non-reproductive pairings. Ethology 113:740–754CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Stratton GE (2005) Evolution of ornamentation and courtship behavior in Schizocosa: insights from a phylogeny based on morphology (Araneae, Lycosidae). J Arachnol 33:347–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Uetz GW, Roberts JA (2002) Multisensory cues and multimodal communication in spiders: insights from video/audio playback studies. Brain Behav Evol 59:222–230CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Voigt CC, von Helversen O (1999) Storage and display of odour by male Saccopteryx bilineata (Chiroptera, Emballonuridae). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 47:29–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Yen J, Weissburg MJ, Doall MH (1998) The fluid physics of signal perception by mate-tracking copepods. Phil Trans Roy Soc Ser B 353:787–804CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of NebraskaLincolnUSA

Personalised recommendations