David, Charles N.; Conover, Robert J.
PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION ON THE PHYSIOLOGY AND ECOLOGY OF LUMINESCENCE IN THE COPEPOD, METRIDIA LUCENS.
In: Biological Bulletin, Vol. 121: pp. 92-107
1. Skin glands believed to be the source of luminescence were found on the anterior portion of the head, on the last thoracic segment, and on the posterior margins of each segment of the abdomen.
2. The maximum intensity of the luminescent flash was 1.2 x 10-3 µw./cm.2 (at 18 cm.). The flash rose rapidly to peak intensity and then decayed slowly. The total duration of the flashes with peaks greater than 10-4 µw./cm.2 ranged from 3 to 50 seconds.
3. The peak of the luminescence spectrum occcurred at 482 mµ and the curve fell off to one-half the maximum value at 440 mµ and 525 mµ.
4. The ability of Metridia to luminesce on stimulation was found to be largely unaffected by prolonged laboratory culture. Starvation had little effect on the luminescence for the first three weeks and there was never any inhibition by previous light- or dark-adaptation.
5. With an increase in the strength of the electric stimulus from 0.3 amp. to 0.7 amp., the intensity of the luminescent flash was found to increase. With pulses stronger than 0.7 amp. no change in intensity was recorded but the number of successive responses to repeated stimuli was reduced. Duration of the pulse had little effect on the intensity or the number of successive responses.
6. Metridia showed a lag time of 8-10 msc. to the beginning of the luminescent response. The lag time to the peak of the luminescent response varied from 20 to 60 msc.
7. There was no spontaneous luminescence produced by groups of Metridia under conditions of constant darkness. However, the presence of certain planktonic predators, most notably Meganyctiphanes norvegica, caused a brilliant display of luminescence. The number of flashes attributable to Metridia was always greater than the number of Metridia eaten by the predator. There was little evidence that the luminescent euphausiid, Meganyctiphanes, flashed spontaneously either in the presence or absence of its prey.
8. Observations on the behavior of Metridia during and just after luminescence suggest that the flashing may be involved in an escape mechanism, but the precise effect of the light on the predator has not been determined.