Heart rate within male crayfish: social interactions and effects of 5-HT

Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2000 Feb;125(2):251-63. doi: 10.1016/s1095-6433(99)00180-4.


Behaviors, such as those that establish dominant and subordinate social status, are thought to be driven by various neuromodulators and hormones. In crustaceans, the level of serotonin (5-HT) in the hemolymph is correlated with degree of aggressiveness. The crustacean heart is neurogenic and is modulated by neural secretion of 5-HT in the hemolymph, which bathes the cardiac tissue. We discuss and present the results of measuring heart rate (HR) of crayfish during interactions, as an indication of their state of excitability. HR is the result of multiple influences: a cocktail of hormones and modulators. HR was monitored during the periods in which crayfish established aggressive and submissive social status, during sham injections, and following injections of various doses of 5-HT. Crayfish, during an interaction to establish social status, can increase HR. Both the aggressive and submissive crayfish can dampen their HR within seconds during a pause in the interaction, while still posturing in an aggressive or submissive state. Injections of 5-HT to obtain systemic levels of approximately 100 nM-10 microM increase HR substantially for hours. This suggests that aggressive interactions and the establishment of a dominant posture may not be related to large increases in the free concentrations of 5-HT within the circulating hemolymph, since a sustained HR is not observed in aggressive animals. Instead, the results may demonstrate that inhibitory cardiac regulation is present in the aggressors during interactions and that a regulator is possibly 5-HT.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astacoidea / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Hemolymph / metabolism
  • Male
  • Serotonin / blood*
  • Serotonin / pharmacology


  • Serotonin