Activity rhythms in the deep-sea: a chronobiological approach

Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2011 Jan 1;16:131-50. doi: 10.2741/3680.


Ocean waters deeper than 200 m cover 70% of the Earth's surface. Light intensity gets progressively weaker with increasing depth and internal tides or inertial currents may be the only remaining zeitgebers regulating biorhythms in deep-sea decapods. Benthopelagic coupling, exemplified by vertically moving shrimps within the water column, may also act as a source of indirect synchronisation to the day-night cycle for species living in permanently dark areas. At the same time, seasonal rhythms in growth and reproduction may be an exogenous response to spring-summer changes in upper layer productivity (via phytoplankton) or, alternatively, may be provoked by the synchronisation mediated by an endogenous controlling mechanism (via melatonin). In our review, we will focus on the behavioural rhythms of crustacean decapods inhabiting depths where the sun light is absent. Potential scenarios for future research on deep-sea decapod behaviour are suggested by new in situ observation technologies. Permanent video observatories are, to date, one of the most important tools for marine chronobiology in terms of species recognition and animals' movement tracking.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Chronobiology Phenomena / physiology*
  • Darkness
  • Decapoda
  • Ecosystem*
  • Melatonin / metabolism
  • Motor Activity
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Periodicity*
  • Phytoplankton


  • Melatonin