Biological clocks and rhythms in intertidal crustaceans

Front Biosci (Elite Ed). 2010 Jun 1;2:1394-404. doi: 10.2741/e200.


Animals with habitats within the intertidal zone are exposed to environmental cycles that include the ebb and flow of tidal waters, changes in tidal levels associated with the lunar month, the light-dark cycle and the alternation of seasons. This intricate temporal environment results in the selection of biological timing systems with endogenous clocks that can oscillate with this wide range of periodicities. Whereas great progress has been made in our understanding of the molecular and neural bases of circadian rhythms, that is, endogenous rhythms synchronized to the solar day, there is little understanding on how circatidal rhythms, namely endogenous rhythms synchronized to tides, are generated. Intertidal crustaceans have been a pivotal group for the demonstration of the endogenous nature of circatidal rhythms and their mechanisms of entrainment. We review here some of the classic work using intertidal crustaceans to unmask basic properties of circatidal systems, as well as work from our laboratory that aims to identify putative chemical signals that could be involved in the circatidal systems of decapod crustaceans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks*
  • Crustacea / physiology*
  • Water Movements