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Tidal, daily, and lunar-day activity cycles in the marine polychaete Nereis virens.

Chronobiology International

Tidal Waves, Animals, physiology, Polychaeta, Photoperiod, Moon, Circadian Rhythm, Biological Clocks, Behavior, Animal

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      The burrow emergence activity of the wild caught ragworm Nereis virens Sars associated with food prospecting was investigated under various photoperiodic (LD) and simulated tidal cycles (STC) using a laboratory based actograph. Just over half (57%) of the animals under LD with STC displayed significant tidal (approximately 12.4 h) and/or lunar-day (approximately 24.8 h) activity patterns. Under constant light (LL) plus a STC, 25% of all animals were tidal, while one animal responded with a circadian (24.2 h) activity rhythm suggestive of cross-modal entrainment where the environmental stimulus of one period entrains rhythmic behavior of a different period. All peaks of activity under a STC, apart from that of the individual cross-modal entrainment case, coincided with the period of tank flooding. Under only LD without a STC, 49% of the animals showed nocturnal (approximately 24 h) activity. When animals were maintained under free-running LL conditions, 15% displayed significant rhythmicity with circatidal and circadian/circalunidian periodicities. Although activity cycles in N. virens at the population level are robust, at the individual level they are particularly labile, suggesting complex biological clock-control with multiple clock output pathways.

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