The Structure of Environmental Odor Signals: From Turbulent Dispersion to Movement through Boundary Layers and Mucus

  • Paul A. Moore
  • Jelle Atema
  • Greg A. Gerhardt


Chemical signals play a major role in the lives of many animals, such as orientation to odor sources, the identification of food, and selection of mates. During the journey from the odor source (e.g., food source) to the “receiver” (either receptor appendage, organ, or cell), the chemical signal is influenced by many different dispersal processes including molecular diffusion, bulk advection, boundary layer flows, and impulsive flows created from sampling structures. The purpose of this report is to outline the present state of knowledge of the structure of chemical signals under the processes mentioned above and how these function together to form the environmental odor signals to which animals respond.


Boundary Layer Chemical Signal Receptor Site Hermit Crab Mucus Layer 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Atema, J., 1985, Chemoreception in the sea: adaptation of chemoreceptors and behavior to aquatic stimulus conditions, Soc. Exp. Biol. Symp. 39: 387–423.Google Scholar
  2. Berg, H.C., and Purcell, E.M., 1977, Physics of chemoreception, Biophys. J., 20: 193–219.Google Scholar
  3. Bossert, W.H., and Wilson, E.O., 1963, The analysis of olfactory communication among animals, J. Theor. Biol., 5: 443–469.Google Scholar
  4. Bursell, E., 1984, Observations on the orientation of tsetse flies (Glossina pallidipes) to wind-borne odours, Physiol. Entomol., 9: 133–137.Google Scholar
  5. DeSimone, J.A., Heck, G.L., and Price, S., 1981, Physiochemical aspects of transduction by chemoreceptor cells, in: Perception of BehavioralGoogle Scholar
  6. Chemicals, C.M., Norris, ed., Elsevier Biomedical Press, NY, NY.Google Scholar
  7. Dewing, K.B., Dubois-Dauphin, M., Holley A., and Jourdan, F., 1977, Functional anatomy of the olfactory organ of fish and the ciliary mechanism of water transport, Acta. Zool. ( Stockh ), 58: 245–255.Google Scholar
  8. Elkinton, J.S., Cardé, R.T., and Mason, C.J., 1984, Evaluation of time-average dispersion models for estimating pheromone concentration in a deciduous forest, J. Chem. Ecol., 10: 1081–1108.Google Scholar
  9. Friedemann, M.N., Moore, P.A., Finger, T.E., Silver, W.L., and Gerhardt, G.A., 1991, Perireceptor events: direct determination of diffusionGoogle Scholar
  10. coefficients in the olfactory mucus layers of salamanders, Chem. Senses (Achems Abst.) (In press).Google Scholar
  11. Gerhardt, G.A., and Adams, R.N., 1982, Determination of diffusion coeffi-Google Scholar
  12. cients by flow injection analysis, Anal. Chem., 54:2618–2620.Google Scholar
  13. Getchell, T.V., Margolis, F.L., and Getchell, M.L., 1984, Perireceptor and receptor events in vertebrate olfaction Prog. Neurobiol., 23: 317–345.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Getchell, T.V., Heck, G.L., DeSimone, J.A., Price, S., 1980, The location of olfactory receptor sites: inferences from latency measurements, Biophys. J. 29: 397–412.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Miksad, R.W., and Kittredge, J., 1979, Pheromone aerial dispersion: a filament model, 14th Conf. Agric. For. Met., Am. Met. Soc., 1: 238–243.Google Scholar
  16. Moore, P.A., and Atema, J., 1988, A model of a temporal filter in chemoreception to extract directional information from a turbulent odor plume, Biol. Bull., 174: 355–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Moore, P.A., and Atema, J., 1991, Spatial information in the three-dimensional fine structure of an aquatic odor plume, Biol. Bull., ( Submitted).Google Scholar
  18. Moore, P.A., Atema, J., and Gerhardt, G.A., 1991, Fluid dynamics and microscale chemical movement in the chemosensory appendages of the lobster, Homarus americanus, Chem. Senses, (Submitted).Google Scholar
  19. Moore, P.A., Gerhardt, G.A., and Atema, J., 1989, High resolution spatíotemporal analysis of aquatic chemical signals using microelectrochemical electrodes Chem. Senses, 14: 829–840.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Murlis, J., and Jones, C.D., 1981, Fine-scale structure of odour plumes in relation to insect orientation to distant pheromone and other attractant sources, Phys. Ent., 6: 71–86.Google Scholar
  21. Murlis, J., 1986, The structure of odour plume, in: Mechanisms in Insect Olfaction, T.L. Payne, M.C. Birch, and C.E.J., Kennedy, eds., Clare-don Press.Google Scholar
  22. Pedlosky, J. 1987, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  23. Snow, P.J., 1973, The antennular activities of the hermit crab, Pagurus alaskiensis (Benedict), J. Exp. Biol., 58: 745–766.Google Scholar
  24. Sutton, 0.G., 1953, “Micrometeorology,” McGraw-Hill, N.Y., N.Y. Tritton, D.J., 1977, “Physical fluid dynamics,” Van Nostrand Reinhold (UK) Co, Ltd., Wokingham, England.Google Scholar
  25. Vogel, S., 1981, “Life in moving fluids: the physical biology of flow,” Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul A. Moore
    • 1
  • Jelle Atema
    • 2
  • Greg A. Gerhardt
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Psychiatry and PharmacologyUniversity of Colorado Health Sciences CenterDenverUSA
  2. 2.Boston University Marine ProgramMarine Biological LaboratoryWoods HoleUSA

Personalised recommendations