JUN 20, 2017 6:14 AM PDT

An Internal Tidal Clock Tells This Isopod When it's Feeding Time

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

We’ve known for ages that animals have a good sense of time and can control their behavior depending on the time of day it is. Many times, this sense is attributed to something known as a circadian clock, which even humans seem to have. On the other hand, some animals also have something known as a circatidal (tidal) clock, which works in similar ways.

While these internal clocks are well-known and well-documented in humans, the way it works in various animal species is still a mystery, which is why scientists continue to study animals that exhibit these features.

A species of nocturnal isopod that goes by the scientific name of Scyphax ornatus appears to work around a tidal clock. Researchers from The University of Auckland in New Zealand say that they’ve successfully demonstrated this clock in the lab by manipulating light/dark and tidal patterns in a controlled environment. Their results appear on the journal Scientific Reports.

Researchers manipulated conditions of light and tide in the lab, but these isopods' internal tidal clock wasn't tricked.

Image Credit: University of Auckland

These creatures are known for leaving their sandy burrows when nighttime rolls around so that they can go on feeding frenzies. Moreover, they try to stay away from the water as the tide rolls in, so they’ll climb up higher on the beach to avoid it; likewise, when the tide recedes, they will head back out.

Related: Setting bacteria's biological clock

“What we have found is that, in the laboratory, with light and tide cycles artificially manipulated, these animals follow the same rules of behavior as they would in the wild,” says study lead author Dr James Cheeseman. “So we can very accurately change the semilunar rhythm by changing the perceived length of the day and tidal cycles.

In the lab tests, even though the animals were ripped from their natural habitat and placed in the lab where the outside light conditions were completely invisible, they continued to respond to their internal tidal clocks despite the contradicting artificial lab conditions created by the researchers.

When the researchers deprived the animals of stimuli that would normally trigger their tidal clocks to kick in, the animals still followed their internal instincts to feed. This meant they were operating purely off of their internal clocks rather than watching for changes in light or tide conditions in the lab.

“That tells us their semilunar or fortnightly behavior continues to be regulated by the interaction of circatidal and circadian clocks even where there is either no external stimuli or they are in an environment with artificial light cycles or tidal cycles,” Dr Cheeseman continued.

What this means is, try as you must, you aren’t going to disturb an animal’s natural cycle with artificial means. They’re simply hard-wired to live their lives a certain way.

Source: The University of Auckland

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 04, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
They're Serious: Ig Nobel-Inspired Researchers Re-examined Penguin's Bodily Fluid Dynamics
AUG 04, 2020
They're Serious: Ig Nobel-Inspired Researchers Re-examined Penguin's Bodily Fluid Dynamics
If this year has been nothing but stress and you are looking for a venue for some "serious" laughter, this is ...
AUG 13, 2020
Plants & Animals
Study Confirms Nutrient Transport in Pregnant Male Seahorses
AUG 13, 2020
Study Confirms Nutrient Transport in Pregnant Male Seahorses
Seahorses are some of the most extraordinary fish in the ocean, and one of their most noteworthy features is male pregna ...
AUG 21, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Growing Cannabis Indoors is Not Eco Friendly
AUG 21, 2020
Growing Cannabis Indoors is Not Eco Friendly
Indoor cannabis cultivation is considered to produce the highest quality cannabis available, but the elephant in the roo ...
AUG 27, 2020
Plants & Animals
Polar Bear Populations Could Collapse by 2100
AUG 27, 2020
Polar Bear Populations Could Collapse by 2100
A new study reports that polar bear populations could collapse in the next 80 years if greenhouse gas emissions remain a ...
SEP 06, 2020
Technology
Can Math Determine The Sex of a Dinosaur?
SEP 06, 2020
Can Math Determine The Sex of a Dinosaur?
Can math tell us about the gender differences in dinosaurs? A new study published a novel statistical analysis that esti ...
OCT 26, 2020
Microbiology
A Network of Fungi Helps Trees Grow
OCT 26, 2020
A Network of Fungi Helps Trees Grow
Trees rely on a network of fungal friends for good health. Communities of trees can share nutrients and other essentail ...
Loading Comments...