Thermoregulatory behavior of the crayfish Procambarus clarki in a burrow environment

Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2003 Nov;136(3):539-56. doi: 10.1016/s1095-6433(03)00203-4.


The behavioral thermoregulation of the red swamp crayfish, Procambarus clarki, was investigated in its burrow environment. In the field, air and water temperatures within crayfish burrows fluctuated less compared with surface temperatures in the Mojave Desert. However, crayfish could still experience sub-optimal temperature regimes inside burrows. In the laboratory, P. clarki heated and cooled more rapidly in water than in air. In a thermal gradient, the crayfish selected a water temperature of 22 degrees C and avoided water temperatures above 31 degrees C and below 12 degrees C. Observations of behavior in an artificial burrow showed that P. clarki displayed three main shuttling behaviors between water and air in response to temperature. The number of bilateral emersions and emigrations, as well as the amount of time spent in air (in a 24 h period), were significantly greater at 34 degrees C than at 12, 16, 22 or 28 degrees C. This reflected an increased use of the behavioral thermoregulation at temperatures approaching the critical thermal maximum of this species. Upon migrating from 34 degrees C water into 38 degrees C air, crayfish body temperature decreased significantly. These periods of emersion were interspersed with frequent dipping in the water, allowing the crayfish to gain the benefits of evaporative cooling, without the physiological costs incurred by long-term exposure to air.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air
  • Animals
  • Astacoidea / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology*
  • Cold Temperature
  • Environment*
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature
  • Male
  • Water


  • Water