Variable orientation within a natural population of the sandhopper Talitrus saltator (Crustacea: Amphipoda) as a response to a variable environment: The case-study of Berkoukesh beach, Tunisia

TitleVariable orientation within a natural population of the sandhopper Talitrus saltator (Crustacea: Amphipoda) as a response to a variable environment: The case-study of Berkoukesh beach, Tunisia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsFanini, L, Scapini F
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Volume77
Issue1
Pages163 - 168
Keywordsenvironmental variability, mediterranean, orientation, Sandy beaches, Talitrus saltator
Abstract

Sandy beaches are harsh environments, driving resident arthropod populations to various typical adaptations, particularly behavioural ones. Here we evaluated the effects of seasonal meteorological variability on the behaviour of Talitrus saltator on Berkoukesh beach (N-W Tunisia). The site is characterised by a Mediterranean climate, but is particularly exposed to seasonal winds and storms. The shoreline is in morphodynamic equilibrium. We tested sandhopper Talitrus saltator orientation in April, when sudden rainfall and storms are common, and in June, when as a rule the weather is warm and dry. The results were analysed with circular statistics and multiple regression models adapted to angular distributions, in order to highlight differences in orientation under the various conditions. Depending on the environmental conditions, amphipods from the same population appeared to utilise various orientation strategies as a response to different environmental constraints. The use of a range of behavioural mechanisms (sun-orientation seaward, sun-orientation landward, and phototaxis) resulted in links to the local landscape and to the animals' life cycle. As a general conclusion, we can infer that the behavioural variability found within the same population represents a response to seasonal environmental fluctuation. Such an increase in variability is likely to develop on a beach in dynamic equilibrium, where landscape references are stable, and a variable behaviour represents a strategy for dealing with environmental fluctuations. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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