Skip to main content Accessibility help

The Orientation of Tail-Flip Escape Swimming in Decapod and Mysid Crustaceans

  • Douglas M. Neil (a1) and Alan D. Ansell (a1)


The orientation of tail-flip escape swimming in a range of adult decapod and mysid crustaceans is reviewed. In mechanical terms, tail-flip swimming constitutes unsteady locomotion in which a single ‘appendage’, the abdomen, produces thrust by a combination of a rowing action and a final ‘squeeze’ force when the abdomen presses against the cephalothorax. In small crustaceans, a symmetrical ‘jack-knife’ tail-flip is more typical. Tail-flip flexion is controlled by two giant-fibre pathways, and also by a non-giant-neuronal network. The direction of thrust in the sagittal plane, and hence the elevation, translation and rotation of the tail-flip are dependent upon the point of stimulation and on the giant-fibre pathway activated. The laterality of the stimulus also affects the orientation of swimming, which is directed away from the point of stimulation. In large decapods such as the lobsters Nephrops norvegicus and Jasus lalandii steering is produced by asym-metrical movements of various abdominal appendages, and by rotation of the abdomen about the cephalothorax. In slipper lobsters the flattened antennae provide steering surfaces. In smaller decapods, such as the brown shrimp Crangon crangon, and in mysids, such as Praunus flexuosus, steering is effected by a rapid rotation of the whole body about its longitudinal axis during the initial stages of tail-flip flexion. The effectiveness of tail-flip swimming is considered in the context of predator-prey interactions under natural conditions and in relation to artificial threats from fishing gear.



Hide All
Ansell, A.D. & Neil, D.M., 1991. Analysis of escape swimming in the mysid Praunus flexuosus by using high-speed video recording. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 71, 731.
Arnott, S.A., Ansell, A.D. & Neil, D.M., 1994. Escape behaviour of the brown shrimp, Crangon crangon, in response to predation by juvenile cod. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 74,724. [Abstract.]
Bullock, T.H., 1984. Comparative neuroethology of startle, rapid escape and giant-fibre mediated responses. In Neural mechanisms of startle behaviour (ed. R.C., Eaton), pp. 113. New York: Plenum Press.
Cattaert, D., Clarac, F. & Neil, D.M., 1988. Anatomical and physiological organization of the swimmeret system of the spiny lobster Jasus lalandii as adaptive components of the tail flick. Journal of Comparative Physiology, 162A, 187200.
Cooke, I.R.C. & Macmillan, D.L., 1985. Further studies of crayfish escape behaviour. I. The role of the appendages and the stereotyped nature of non-giant escape swimming. Journal of Experi-mental Biology, 118,351365.
Cromarty, S.I., Cobb, J.S. & Kass-Simon, G., 1991. Behavioural analysis of the escape response in the juvenile lobster Homarus americanus over the molt cycle. Journal of Experimental Biology, 158,565581.
Daniel, T.L., Jordan, C. & Grunbaum, D., 1992. Hydromechanics of swimming. In Advances in comparative and environmental physiology vol. 11 (ed. R.McN., Alexander), pp. 1849. Berlin: Springer Verlag.
Daniel, T.L. & Meyhofer, E., 1989. Size limits in escape locomotion of carridean shrimp. Journal of Experimental Biology, 143, 245265.
Edwards, D.H. & Mulloney, B., 1987. Synaptic integration in excitatory and inhibitory crayfish motoneurones. Journal of Neurophysiology, 57,14251445.
Ellington, C.P., 1984. The aerodynamics of hovering insect flight. VA vortex theory. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 305, 115144.
Hart, P.J.B. & Hamrin, S., 1990. The role of behaviour and morphology in the selection of prey by pike. In Behavioural mechanisms of food selection (ed. R.N., Hughes), pp. 235254. Berlin: Springer Verlag.
Heitler, W.J. & Fraser, K., 1989. Thoracic output of crayfish giant fibres. I. Pereiopod promotor motor neurones. Journal of Comparative Physiology, 166A, 117124.
Hessler, R.R., 1983. A defence of the caridoid facies: wherein the early evolution of the eumalacostraca is discussed. In Crustacean phylogeny (ed. F.R., Schram), pp. 145164. Rotterdam: A.A. Balkema.
Jacklyn, P.M. & Ritz, D.A., 1986. Hydrodynamics of swimming in scyllarid lobsters. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 101, 8599.
Kaiser, M.J., Gibson, R.N. & Hughes, R.N., 1992. The effect of prey type on the predatory behaviour of the fifteen-spined stickleback, Spinachia spinachia (L.)Animal Behaviour, 43,147156.
Kils, U., 1982. The swimming behaviour, swimming performance and energy balance of the Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba. Biomass Scientific Series, 3,1121.
Kislalioglu, M. & Gibson, R.N., 1975. Field and laboratory observations on prey-size selection in Spinachia spinachia (L.). Proceedings of the European Marine Biology Symposium, 9, 2941.
Krasne, F.B. & Wine, J.J., 1988. Evasion responses of the crayfish. In Aims and methods in neuroethology (ed. D.M., Guthrie), pp. 1045. Manchester University Press.
Kupfermann, I. & Weiss, K.R., 1978. The command neuron concept. Behaviour and Brain Research, 1,339.
Main, J. & Sangster, G.I., 1982. A study of separating fish from Nephrops norvegicus L. in a bottom trawl. Scottish Fisheries Research Report, 24,18.
Main, J. & Sangster, G.I., 1985. The behaviour of the Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus (L). during trawling. Scottish Fisheries Research Report, 34, 123.
Neil, D.M., 1985. Multisensory interactions in the crustacean equilibrium system. In Feedback and motor control in invertebrates and vertebrates (ed. W.J.P., Barnes and M., Gladden), pp. 277298. London: Croom Helm.
Neil, D.M., 1993. Sensory guidance of equilibrium reactions in crustacean posture and locomotion. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, 104A, 633646.
Newland, P.L., Cattaert, D., Neil, D.M. & Clarac, F., 1992 a. Steering reactions as adaptive components of the tail-flip in the spiny lobster Jasus lalandii. Journal of Experimental Biology, 164,261282.
Newland, P.L. & Chapman, C.J., 1989. The swimming and orientation behaviour of the Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus (L.) in relation to trawling. Fisheries Research, 8,6380.
Newland, P.L., Chapman, C.J. & Neil, D.M., 1988 a. Swimming performance and endurance of the Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus. Marine Biology, 98,345350.
Newland, P.L. & Neil, D.M., 1987. Statocyst control of uropod righting reactions in different planes of body tilt in the Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus. Journal of Experimental Biology, 131,301321.
Newland, P.L. & Neil, D.M., 1990 a. The tail flip of the Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus. I. Giant fibre activation in relation to swimming trajectories, journal of Comparative Physiology, 166A, 517527.
Newland, P.L. & Neil, D.M., 1990 b. The tail flip of the Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus. II. Dynamic righting reactions induced by body tilt. Journal of Comparative Physiology, 166 A, 529536.
Newland, P.L., Neil, D.M. & Chapman, C.J., 1988 b. The reactions of the Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus (L), to water currents. Marine Behaviour and Physiology, 13, 301313.
Newland, P.L., Neil, D.M. & Chapman, C.J., 1992 b. Escape swimming in the Norway lobster. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 12, 342353.
O'dor, R.K., 1988. The forces acting on swimming squid. Journal of Experimental Biology, 137, 421442.
Paul, D.H., 1990. Neural phylogeny - its use in studying neural circuits. In Frontiers of crustacean neurobiology (ed. K., Wiese et al.), pp. 537546. Basel: Birkhauser Verlag.
Reichert, H. & Wine, J.J., 1983. Co-ordination of lateral giant and non-giant systems in crayfish escape behavior. Journal of Comparative Physiology, 153 A, 315.
Ritz, D. A. & Jacklyn, P.M., 1985. Believe it or not - bugs fly through water. Australian Fisheries, 44, 3537.
Smith, K., 1993. A study of the escape behaviour of the brown shrimp, Crangon crangon (L.). MSc thesis, University of Glasgow.
Spanier, E., Weihs, D. & Almog-Shtayer, G., 1991. Swimming of the Mediterranean slipper lobster. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 145, 1531.
Webb, P.W., 1979. Mechanics of escape responses in crayfish (Orconectes virilis). Journal of Experi-mental Biology, 79,245263.
Weihs, D. & Webb, P.W., 1984. Optimal avoidance and evasion tactics in predator-prey interactions. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 106, 189206.
Wiersma, C.A.G., 1947. Giant nerve fiber system of the crayfish. A contribution to the comparative physiology of the synapse. Journal of Neurophysiology, 10, 2338.
Wine, J.J., 1984. The structural basis of an innate behaviour pattern. Journal of Experimental Biology, 112,283319.
Wine, J.J. & Krasne, F.B., 1982. The cellular organisation of crayfish escape behaviour. In The biology of Crustacea, vol. 4. Neural integration and behaviour (ed. D.C., Sandeman and H.L., Atwood), pp. 241292. New York: Academic Press.


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed