Orientation and navigation relative to water flow, prey, conspecifics, and predators by the nudibranch mollusc Tritonia diomedea

Biol Bull. 2006 Apr;210(2):97-108. doi: 10.2307/4134599.


Progress in understanding sensory and locomotory systems in Tritonia diomedea has created the potential for the neuroethological study of animal navigation in this species. Our goal is to describe the navigational behaviors to guide further work on how the nervous system integrates information from multiple senses to produce oriented locomotion. Observation of T. diomedea in its habitat has suggested that it uses water flow to navigate relative to prey, predators, and conspecifics. We test these hypotheses in the field by comparing slug orientation in time-lapse videos to flow direction in circumstances with and without prey, predators, or conspecifics upstream. T. diomedea oriented upstream both while crawling and after turning. This trend was strongest before feeding or mating; after feeding or mating, the slugs did not orient significantly to flow. Slugs turned downstream away from an upstream predator but did not react in control situations without an upstream predator. These data support the hypothesis that T. diomedea uses a combination of odors (or some other cue transported downstream) and water flow to navigate relative to prey, predators, and conspecifics. Understanding the context-dependent choice between upstream and downstream crawling in T. diomedea provides an opportunity for further work on the sensory integration underlying navigation behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Ecosystem
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Tritonia Sea Slug / physiology*
  • Videotape Recording
  • Water


  • Water