Integration of physiological responses of crustaceans to environmental challenge
Chris N. Airriess
Brachyuran crustaceans are useful models for physiological studies because of their intermediate size and since they occupy a spectrum of habitats requiring widely varied behaviour. In this paper we examine the physiological responses to environmental fluctuations, extremes of habitat and consequent behaviours, with special emphasis on the adoption of air-breathing. It is established that metabolic end products such as lactate, intermediates including urate, and monoamine and peptide neurohormones can have important regulatory roles. These include effects on ventilation and heart function, blood perfusion, respiratory gas transport, as well as water and salt homeostasis providing an integrated suite of control mechanisms to regulate responses to environmental or behaviourally induced stress. A separate body of work has long suggested that the regulation of energy metabolism and provision of metabolic fuel for glycolysis is influenced by similar effectors. Most recently, metabolic end-products have been implicated as effectors of behaviour and thereby metabolic state. Thus, there is strong, emerging evidence for integration of physiological control mechanisms at the organismal level. We present new information, both mechanistic and from eco-physiological laboratory simulations, and from field studies of terrestrial crabs, that strengthens and extends the scope of this integration. Branchial chamber ventilation, cardiovascular function, relative perfusion of gills v. lungs, gas transport in the blood, the mobilisation of energy reserves, ion transport and water balance are all apparently influenced by similar messengers which coordinate and optimise these functions to meet specific requirements.